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MONTEGO BAY, St. James, Jamaica, March 17, 2016: The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the EXIM Bank are to set the stage for the establishment of a tourism bank.
Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has proposed the tourism bank as source of funding for service providers in the tourism industry to enable them to build capacity and reap more from the industry.
The concept of tourism bank was presented by Minister Bartlett as he address participants in the second annual Speed Networking hosted by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the Tourism Linkages Hub at the Hilton Hotel.
Noting that there was an Agricultural Credit Bank, Mr. Bartlett cited the need for also for a tourism credit bank which, he said, would be developed on lines similar to Banco Nacional in the Dominican Republic which only seeks out tourism opportunities and provides financing.
“I assure you, if we are able to do this then the problems that I see of tourism becoming a plantation will never happen because we must become the owners of tourism. Jamaicans must own the industry and owning the industry doesn’t mean that we are the owners of any sector; what it must mean is that we have access to every area and that we are beneficiaries of the proceeds of tourism,” said Minister Bartlett.
Recognizing the need for capital and credit to drive growth in the service sector, Mr. Bartlett noted, “The Jamaican banking system as structured is not responsive to tourism in the way that we are talking because if tourism is to be the great stimulant of economic growth, that it is in many places, then it must be given the space and the infrastructure support required to enable it.”
“The Tourism Enhancement Fund will be engaged to work with a sensitive but important financial institution to develop a financial portfolio to encourage local, indigenous entrepreneurship to meet the supply and demand of tourism.”
He said the idea has already been presented to the Tourism Linkages Hub Council “and already we’re thinking the process through.” While still in its infancy, Mr. Bartlett said “for now my thinking is through the EXIM Bank but it will morph in time to a full fledge institution which will be geared to supporting the needs and requirements of tourism.”
It expected that details of the proposed tourism bank will be outlined by Minister Bartlett in his Budget presentation.