64 Knutsford Boulevard, Kingston 5, Jamaica
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Theme: A Sector for the People: Making Tourism for Us All
Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to rise to make my contribution to the Sectoral Debate, and I would like to thank the Most Honourable Prime Minister for affording me the opportunity to serve in the capacity of Minister of Tourism and Entertainment.
Congratulations to the Speaker, Clerk and the committed staff of the House for the good job you have been doing.
I also wish to acknowledge and thank my immediate family, my wife Sheila, our two children, my mother and my extended family for their unwavering support over the years that I have executed my duties.
I extend special thanks to my constituents in Western Westmoreland, Mayor Bertel Moore, the Councillors and my management team. Mr. Speaker, without their support, I would not have had the privilege of addressing this Honourable House in this capacity.
And most of all, I thank God for blessing me with health and strength.
Mr. Speaker, as our nation seeks to navigate through this global economic storm, I believe that this is a very crucial time for the tourism sector as we seek to lay a firm foundation for the sustainable development of our country.
I am pleased to inform this Honourable House and all Jamaicans that, despite the many challenges facing our tourism sector, it continues to perform well, due largely to the support of our committed tourism partners and the diligent efforts of the outstanding team I have the pleasure of leading.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to my Minister of State and the entire team at the Ministry and its agencies led by the Permanent Secretary.
I also want to commend the chairpersons of the boards of the respective agencies within the Ministry, and their hardworking board members. Mr. Speaker I want to also acknowledge the Chairmen of the six Resort Boards.
I want to specially thank the President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Mrs. Evelyn Smith and her Executive for the cooperation and support that they have provided over the last year.
They have been an integral part of the process of leading a sector that is so important to us all.
This has been demonstrated on a number of occasions Mr. Speaker:
Mr. Speaker, I believe the JHTA has found the perfect balance between sector advocacy and looking out for the national interest and I have to commend them.
I look forward to continuing to work with all our tourism partners, working together for the good of our nation.
Focusing the Vision for Tourism
Mr. Speaker, on the 21st of July 2009, four years ago I rose before this Honourable House to address our nation as Opposition Spokesman on Tourism.
I took the opportunity to remind the then Minister of Tourism to treat his stewardship as if it were a leg in a relay. Mr. Speaker, I do not believe at the time he would have imagined that his leg of the relay would be but a quick dash.
Three years later, the baton has once again passed on for, what I believe will be, a leg of endurance.
Moving forward, I believe we must continue to pay attention to the traditional measures of success such as arrivals and occupancy levels. However Mr. Speaker, we have to transition to an approach which focuses on the impact on and contribution of tourism to national development. So, in my speech today I will begin with an overview of the industry and outline some sector initiatives that have been undertaken. I will then spend some time articulating strategies and efforts to:
Mr. Speaker, given the time constraints for this presentation, I can only highlight some of the issues within the sector and State Minister Crawford will expand on others as he makes his presentation later.
Mr. Speaker, the tourism sector continues to demonstrate its resilience to the global economic climate.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Mr. Speaker reported that international tourist arrivals grew by 3.8% in 2012 to surpass the one billion mark for the first time in history. While international arrivals for 2013 are forecasted to increase by 3%-4%.
Nonetheless the economic outlook in our major markets the USA, Canada and the UK remains conservative.
The US economic recovery appears slow though consumer confidence is improving with spending following suit. The Canadian travel professionals have reported a slowdown in business after a relatively lukewarm winter performance.
On the other side of the Atlantic the UK stock market activities have reached record levels sparking speculation that business confidence is on its way back and the economy is moving towards growth. However the effect of the increases in the APD continues to stymie the appetite for travel to the Caribbean.
This snapshot of the market conditions we face, Mr. Speaker, serves to put into perspective the environment in which we are doing business today and assists in understanding how hard-earned are any gains we may make.
With this said Mr. Speaker, last year Jamaica had growth in stopover visitor arrivals of 1.8% and cruise arrivals were up by 17.3%. As has been reported, stopovers for the winter period this year were down marginally by 3.1%, mainly due to a decrease in air seats out of Canada and a contraction in available room-stock here in Jamaica.
However, Mr. Speaker, based on our market research, airlift and forward bookings, the prospects for the summer are looking good. Importantly our airlift is up, especially out of Canada and we have concluded arrangements for additional seats out of the UK and Europe.
We have already had growth in stopover arrivals in May (2.3%) and June (3.2%). On a more positive note, figures for May, the first month of the summer, are showing a rebound in the Canadian market (9.0%) and in May we returned to growth out of the UK for the first time in a long while ( almost 10%).
Just yesterday, Mr. Speaker, we welcomed the arrival of the inaugural flight of Air Canada’s new leisure carrier Rouge, at the Norman Manley International Airport. This marked a truly historic occasion as this was the first flight by the carrier anywhere in the world. Mr. Speaker, they could have gone to any destination, but they chose Jamaica.
This speaks volumes of the strong relationship between Jamaica and our Canadian tourism partners. We are confident that the addition of this innovative new vacation airline will bolster our efforts to boost arrivals out of Canada, which is now our second biggest source market.
Mr. Speaker, in terms of cruise shipping, we expect to finish this year marginally down. But we have to view this in the context of two phenomenal years of growth after the opening of the Falmouth pier.
This year we will welcome Disney cruises to Jamaica for the first time. The introduction of such a strong brand to Jamaica is tremendous. They will be bringing to Falmouth both the Disney Wonder and Fantasy, the former having its inaugural cruise in October this year.
We are also concentrating on home porting and Montego Bay will see the AIDA bella as well as the Louis Cristal Cuba cruises home porting there, starting in November and December of this year respectively.
In addition, Mr. Speaker, there is good news for Ocho Rios. Next year we will see the Norwegian Epic going there for the first time and Royal Caribbean will be returning to this port. Mr. Speaker the forecast is that by the end of 2014 cruise ship arrivals to Jamaica will surpass the 1.4 million mark for the first time.
Mr. Speaker, I have every confidence that the tourism sector will meet the expectations we are placing on it, as the path ahead continues to offer promise of further growth, and destination Jamaica retains its international competitive edge.
Last year, Mr. Speaker, I spoke about several initiatives that I believed would significantly boost sector performance. I now want to turn your attention to a number of them that have been implemented and update the House on their progress.
Mr. Speaker, we have enjoyed success in our drive to diversify our source markets. While we still maintain a clear-eyed focus on our traditional markets of the US, Canada and Western Europe, we have successfully reached into Latin America and the Eastern European markets.
In fact Mr. Speaker, the growth out of Latin America has been very encouraging. This is due in large part to our partnership with Copa Airlines. Copa has an extensive network in this region and Panama serves as its hub. Last year, when we came into office, we were getting four flights per week from Latin America through Copa and this has now been doubled to eight flights per week as of December last year. We have also agreed on a range of marketing initiatives to cover several Latin American countries and going forward, we intend to increase these initiatives in what we see as a market with great potential.
In addition, Mr. Speaker, Copa recently held its annual conference in Jamaica, for the first time ever. Mr. Speaker, it is worth mentioning that Jamaica, being selected as Copa’s conference choice, which is attended by all of its primary Latin American travel partners and wholesalers, was a vote of confidence in destination Jamaica and augers well for the strengthening of our relationship going forward.
Mr. Speaker, we have also started to make real headway in the Eastern European markets. Russia in particular is producing good numbers: 5,550 visitors from the start of the year up to the first week of June. Last year this time, there were no flights from the Northern and Eastern European markets. Of note Mr. Speaker is that these visitors stay for 10 nights, compared to the much shorter stays by visitors from our traditional markets.
The inauguration of Transearo’s service direct from Moscow to Jamaica last winter marked a tremendous achievement for Jamaica. Of note we also had flights out of the Czech Republic, and starting this November, we will begin two flights out of Stockholm, Sweden.
Mr. Speaker, these are potentially rich source markets for Jamaica and making such an impactful entry will significantly contribute to our goal of diversification towards sustainable growth in the sector.
Mr. Speaker we have also recognized, that in order to increase visitor arrivals to Jamaica from these and other new markets, we have to make it easier for them to enter Jamaica. We have indefinitely waived visa requirements for a number of Latin American countries and are now looking to extend this facility to others that have the potential to produce good numbers to Jamaica.
Relaxation of visa regulations has clearly enabled us to tap into veins of latent desire for travel to Jamaica. So Mr. Speaker, we have also waived the visa requirements indefinitely for Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine in Eastern Europe.
Mr. Speaker, another critical market we have to pursue is China which recently surpassed the US as the biggest tourism source market. Expenditure from China on travel abroad reached US $102 billion, which is 10% of total global expenditure.
We already enjoy Approved Destination Status, however visas to Jamaica are available only in Beijing, an inconvenience for citizens of such a large country. We have already started discussions with the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to explore ways in which we can streamline group travel to Jamaica. One option is to try to exempt the holders of third country visas (Canadian, US or a Schengen visa) as a possibility; many countries in Central America already do this. In addition the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and JamVac are currently looking at the airlift opportunities to see how we can increase travel from this important market.
Mr. Speaker, we ignore emerging markets like this at our peril, and developing airlift and easing visa restrictions go hand in hand if we are to grow these markets.
Mr. Speaker, while we are expanding our markets and facilitating ease of travel, we must also ensure that the airport experience is a positive and efficient one.
Before I became Minister and early in my tenure I used to receive numerous complaints about the long lines and difficulties especially at the Sangster International Airport where the vast majority of visitors to our island arrive. One of the first things we did, along with the Minister of National Security, was to establish a committee from all the relevant agencies.
I am pleased Mr. Speaker, with the success we have had to date at both our international airports, especially at Sangster International. Time and motion studies conducted at this airport show that the processing time for outgoing passengers has been reduced by more than 50% from 14 minutes to 6 minutes. I want to thank the various partner Ministries, agencies and organizations, especially the airlines, PICA and the Ministry of National Security, for their contribution to this process.
However, more work still remains to be done. The committee has been mandated, following discussions with MBJ to now focus on the incoming side. This will require review of the designs and layout of the infrastructure and systems in place with a view to further improving the processes. These changes, Mr. Speaker will not only improve the airport experience for visitors but, Jamaicans as well.
Also Mr. Speaker, I have long advocated for the need to eliminate inbound immigration forms for Jamaicans. Recently I travelled through Miami and observed that their immigration form, the I-94, has now been totally eliminated. This is the direction in which global travel is moving, capturing data electronically to expedite the travel experience.
I have therefore indicated to the committee to work with our Ministerial partners, to examine merging the customs and immigration forms into one. As the Americans have demonstrated, the technology is available for this to be done.
Mr. Speaker Jamaica must not only keep up with global trends in travel and tourism, but we must also seek to position ourselves on the cutting edge as a destination.
Mr. Speaker, in that regard the Jamaica Tourist Board continues to perform at an exemplary level. It has been responsible for the many memorable campaigns and slogans that have propelled our tourism performance over the years and its sales network has consistently punched above its weight. For the past 10 years, ‘Once You Go You Know’ has been the slogan that has successfully intrigued and attracted visitors to Jamaica and I take this opportunity to acknowledge the effectiveness of the campaign it underpinned.
However Mr. Speaker, based on extensive market research the board decided that a new, fresh and exciting campaign was needed to keep us at the forefront of our competition.
A critical part of this campaign is going to be the strong emphasis on new media such as social media networks. The new creative was shot earlier this year and the campaign will be ready for launch in October in time to take us into this winter season.
Mr. Speaker, as we expand our markets and use new creative to attract visitors to our shores we must also explore ways to capitalize on Jamaica’s rich resources and natural competitive advantage to expand our market segment offerings.
Segments such as health tourism, sports tourism, community tourism and events tourism can offer a distinct competitive advantage and later in the year more will be said on these areas in which initiatives have already begun.
I would also mention Mr. Speaker that perhaps it speaks well of human nature that one of the rapidly growing niches in the travel industry is the area of volun-tourism. Although small at this time, this market has been growing rapidly and presents good opportunities for Jamaica, particularly with respect to our Diaspora.
Mr. Speaker, the JTB has facilitated and encouraged volun-tourism through volunteer groups that have traveled to Jamaica over the years. Just last month alone we had the RuJohn Foundation, as well as two groups that came, working along with Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater. I take this opportunity to thank them for their ongoing efforts.
Mr. Speaker, I want to now move to two important policy initiatives that are currently being worked on by the Ministry. The first is the small and medium hotel energy efficiency progamme and the second one is the legislation to govern timeshare.
Small and Medium Hotel Energy Efficiency Programme
Mr. Speaker, we are working to enhance the energy efficiency of the small and medium hotels in Jamaica, so that these hotels not only survive but thrive. It is important to note that last year the occupancy levels in small hotels increased by 5.2 %.
This is very promising for the accommodation subsector and the communities in which they are located as their operations have a more immediate and direct impact at the community level.
Our definition of small and medium hotels is properties of up to 200 rooms. These hotels account for approximately a third (30.9%) of the rooms in our hotel sector. It is therefore crucial that we do what we can to ensure their continued viability. For this reason, Mr. Speaker, we have been working closely with the JHTA and the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) to develop a programme that will assist with energy conservation and positively impact their bottom line.
Mr. Speaker it is proposed that interest free loans will be made available to select properties for the purpose of retrofitting energy saving devices such as LED lights, and solar water heating systems, that can significantly reduce energy use.
Mr. Speaker $50 million has been allocated for this programme, which will be used as a revolving fund.
The JHTA will develop the criteria for selection and will be involved in monitoring the programme, alongside the Ministry. Mr. Speaker this initiative will also support our efforts to position Jamaica as a green destination.
Mr. Speaker I want to close this section on sector initiatives by mentioning the timeshare legislation.
There is no doubt that timeshare is an important market and can add a new area of investment for Jamaica. Mr. Speaker, in February 2012 we gave instructions to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) to begin drafting the legislation and we received the draft bill in April of this year.
Consultations with the major stakeholders, including the JHTA, the Jamaica Bar Association, the Jamaica Bankers’ Association, the Registrar of Titles, the American Resort Developers Association (ARDA) and other key stakeholders, have provided valuable input.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Justice, the CPC and the Real Estate Board for the tremendous input they have given us. In conducting the consultations we realized that we had to strike a balance between protecting the rights of the timeshare purchasers and at the same time encouraging investment. The final comments were received last month and the amendments have been sent to CPC for inclusion in the bill and it is intended Mr. Speaker, that we will table the timeshare bill this year.
This initiative will broaden the range of options we will be able to take to market and has positive implications for the apartment and condominium sector.
Driver of Economic Growth & Economic Benefits
Mr. Speaker, I now want to turn to those strategies and efforts that are being undertaken to deepen the impact of tourism’s contribution to national development.
Deepening and Broadening the Tourism Linkages
Mr. Speaker, last year I outlined our intention to deepen the linkages between tourism and the rest of the economy and so stimulate further growth in those areas.
We subsequently established a Tourism Linkages Task Force comprising representatives from key government bodies and the private sector.
Out of our deliberations it was determined that a Tourism Linkages Hub be established at the Ministry to drive the linkages initiative. It will be governed by a Council, chaired by Mr. Donovan Perkins.
Mr. Speaker, already much work has been done and much has been accomplished. A preliminary assessment of hoteliers’ needs has been completed and a more detailed study will be undertaken.
Also an on-line tool has been developed for use by suppliers and buyers, which provides a common area for buyers to identify needs and suppliers to meet those needs. This tool is supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, RADA, JAMPRO, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) and the EXIM Bank and is plugged into databases operated by these agencies.
Already, Mr. Speaker, reports of positive benefits are coming in from the manufacturing sector. Just a day or two ago one manufacturer credited the Hub initiative with his success in landing an order from a large hotel operator. Additionally discussions are in an advanced stage for the supply of furniture to a major hotel chain.
Also coming out of the task force meetings, the EXIM Bank is creating a facility for receivables financing for suppliers who provide goods and services to the hotel sector. This will be enormously useful in reducing cost and keeping valuable capital in the suppliers’ hands without a protracted wait for payment.
At this point I would like to thank the JMA, JHTA, JAS and the various participating Government agencies (Jampro, RADA) as persons have come with a spirit of unity and there is great enthusiasm about the possibilities in this area.
Mr. Speaker with regards to agriculture, a study commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO), in 2008 estimated that total food purchases by hotels, both imported and local food, was approximately US$177 million or 16 billion Jamaican dollars of which 4.8 billion Jamaican dollars, or 30%, represented local purchases. The mandate I have given the Council is to substantially increase this margin of local purchases. These are areas where with economies of scale we can earn more for Jamaican businesses and retain the money here in Jamaica.
Mr. Speaker the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment is also working towards the development of a Community Tourism Policy to drill down into the broader base of the economy.
The reach of community tourism can extend far beyond the tourism industry, generating increased capacity within communities, stronger community governance, employment creation and poverty reduction.
However, Mr. Speaker while we are finalizing the formal policy we are moving ahead to implement some practical, immediate programmes. During this financial year, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) through the REDI project has allocated funding valued at $350 million, which will be used to implement community based programmes across the island. It will address three main areas:
The first being a number of community based projects. The call for these has already been advertised in the print media. And I want to note here that TPDCo will be available to assist the enterprises in the process of preparing their submissions;
And I must say here Mr. Speaker that the Craft Industry is an important sub-sector and it needs to have its own policy framework and growth agenda. State Minister Crawford will elaborate on this subject in his presentation later.
Mr. Speaker I now want to turn to worker benefits.
Mr. Speaker, even as we highlight the ways in which tourism reaches into the very heart of society, I have always felt that the benefits of working in the sector should go beyond wages and a salary.
This is one of the industries that directly depend on the employee as an integral part of the product. The greatest asset that establishes the competitive advantage we have long enjoyed as a world class tourism destination is the people of Jamaica.
So when we see someone who has given their life’s work to tourism, someone who has extended the warmth, the smiles, these things which generate repeat visitors: that dining room waitress who provides that unique interaction and remembered a visitor’s name the following morning or a bellhop who smiled as he saw guests approaching: we want the same for these workers as we want for our years of hard work.
Yet Mr. Speaker, we see these very workers put their heart and soul into their work, but when they exit the workforce, we have to ask, what type of retirement do they really get?
I believe Mr. Speaker that a worker being able to work towards securing their future is a basic prerequisite for any country seeking developed nation status and we plan on addressing this issue as a matter of policy. To this end, we have been looking at the long term benefits including pension and housing arrangements as it affects our industry.
Mr. Speaker, our research indicates that 84% of workers in the accommodations subsector have no pension arrangements at this moment. To put it another way Mr. Speaker, of the approximately 36,000 workers in the accommodation subsector, approximately 30,240 will retire without a pension plan.
If nothing is done, then these workers will retire as elderly citizens who would have made their contribution to nation building. Yet they will leave this vibrant sector with no source of direct income, other than investments, National Insurance Scheme or help from family members.
Mr. Speaker, last year we engaged a consultant who is an expert in pensions, to craft a plan for a pension scheme for the tourism sector.
A draft of the plan was completed and reviewed by a committee comprised of representatives from the JHTA, the Insurance Association of Jamaica and the Policy team from the Ministry. Mr. Speaker, out of those reviews, recommendations have been submitted to the JHTA for consideration.
The main objectives guiding the discussions are as follows:
Mr. Speaker, the JHTA Council at its meeting on Tuesday, June 25 unanimously endorsed the concept and agreed that all parties, government, investors/operators and the employees should work towards making it a reality. There are however substantial implications and further discussions are required. Nevertheless Mr. Speaker, they have given their commitment to working with me and the Ministry to see this through to fruition.
Mr. Speaker, there is also the matter of housing for our tourism workers. Not only are there too few options for housing in many of the communities surrounding our tourist resort areas, but there has also been a protracted misunderstanding of how the issue of gratuities has been treated in processing NHT loan applications for tourism workers.
Mr. Speaker, I want to highlight today that our Ministry has been in dialogue with the National Housing Trust (NHT) to clarify this issue and I am happy to say that they have indicated emphatically that:
Mr. Speaker, with these two arrangements in place, and considering the Cluster Housing Policy, the Ministry has now began working with the NHT and the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) to look at identifying parcels of land in and around the resort areas and explore the possibilities of developing more housing for our sector workers.
Tourism as a Developmental Tool for Us All
Mr. Speaker, in the larger context tourism is a development tool and investments in the industry play a large role in stimulating growth in our economy.
Happily, Mr. Speaker, after a hiatus, it is significant to note that investor confidence has returned to the hotel sector and destination Jamaica. This is demonstrated in a portfolio of investments comprised of new developments and refurbishing of existing properties, with each reflecting both international and local interests.
There are two new hotel developments underway:
Over the past year, a number of properties have been acquired or are in the process of being acquired with major refurbishing taking place at the properties. These properties formerly operated as; Grand Lido Braco, the Royal Decameron at Paradise Cove, Ritz Carlton, Poincianna and Breezes Runaway Bay. Among these properties some twelve billion dollars has already been committed to refurbishing.
Some of these properties will be flagged by international brands such as Blue Diamond, Melia and Karisma. And, very significantly, Mr. Speaker from local sources, Sagicor now operates three hotels in Jamaica under the Jewels flag and has become a major player in the industry.
Mr. Speaker these investments speak for themselves. They are expressions, loud and clear that there is confidence in brand Jamaica and the future of our sector.
Importantly too is the investment that is made in infrastructural projects by the Tourism Enhancement Fund.
Transformational Development Projects
Mr. Speaker I have always said that the TEF must be a transformational agency and implement projects that can and will transform the landscape of Jamaica. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform this House that this year, the Tourism Enhancement Fund will undertake four such major projects at a total cost of over $1.2billion.
Already, Memoranda of Agreements have been signed and a total of $550M has been put in place to start these projects. These funds have already been transferred to the implementing agencies.
Mr. Speaker, may I remind this Honourable House that the funds for this agency are derived from a fee on tickets purchased overseas for travel to Jamaica and are earmarked for the enhancement and development of the tourism product.
The first project Mr. Speaker will be implemented in Ocho Rios. Mr. Speaker, three years ago when the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier was coming into operation, I indicated in a presentation that its introduction may have a deleterious effect on the other ports, especially Ocho Rios. I made the point that Falmouth was a necessity but that we should move concurrently in upgrading our other ports so that they also would remain competitive.
With this in mind Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform this Honourable House that a transformative plan has been conceived, developed and is about to be initiated for Ocho Rios. This first project is a partnership between ourselves, the UDC and PAJ. $400 million has been earmarked towards this.
It is broad and imaginative in concept and embraces the area between the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort and Spa and the Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Pier.
The first phase of the project will encompass the cruise ship pier, Turtle River Road, which is the road that runs from the pier to Main Street. It traces an oblong pattern from the pier going south to Main Street and east to the Jamaica Grande and westerly, along a seaside boardwalk back to the pier.
Mr. Speaker, elements of this project will be the total refurbishing and upgrading of the Ocho Rios cruise ship terminal, including the façade and improvements to the parking area.
Turtle River Road will be totally reconstructed with new architecture and landscaping.
There will be improvements to Main Street including work to be done on the sidewalks, improved landscaping and new architecture. Also the boardwalk along the seaside between the cruise ship pier and back to the Jamaica Grande side will be totally refurbished to allow free access to Jamaicans and visitors alike. Mr. Speaker phase one of the plan went to tender last month (June) in order to allow work to begin in September.
The second major initiative Mr. Speaker is for the provision of lighting for the full length of Montego Bay’s ‘Elegant Corridor’. Mr. Speaker $400 million has been budgeted for this project. This 27 kilometre long Segment-2a of the North Coast highway extends from the roundabout at the Sangster International Airport going east to Lilliput. The project’s design is completed and ready to go to tender. LED lighting powered directly from the national electric grid will be used.
The third project, Mr. Speaker, will be the construction of bicycle tracks and pedestrian pathways along the Norman Manley Boulevard in Negril. Mr. Speaker $ 170 million has been allocated for this project that covers the six kilometre stretch between the roundabout in the town and the aerodrome. Provisions will be made for drainage and safe pedestrian and motor vehicle interaction. These improvements will encourage greater visitor mobility and safety, promote inclusiveness and stimulate increased spending in small businesses. This venture Mr. Speaker is an extension of the project that is currently underway and is slated to be completed by the first quarter of 2014.
The fourth major initiative will have a similar transformative impact on Port Royal. It will include the rehabilitation of the Naval Hospital and the creation of a museum within that building to house the many valuable artefacts that have been recovered from the sea over the years. In addition there will be the development of an interactive children’s museum and the construction of a cobble-stone historic walking trail with storyboards and support services between the Naval Hospital and Fort Charles.
Mr. Speaker, we are also working with the JNHT to identify and determine an archaeological dig along this walkway. This will become an added attraction, as it will be cordoned off and become an active archaeological site.
Mr. Speaker, we have already established a state-of-the art theatre at Port Royal and will be upgrading the programme content that is shown there. All this will enhance the product offering to locals and visitors, showcasing the historic attributes of Port Royal. It was important for us to do this work at this time as we are in real danger of losing these cultural and historical monuments to the elements. Mr. Speaker $220 million has been allocated for this project.
These four transformative projects represent a quantum leap for the TEF. They represent the scale of operation in size and value that was initially envisioned in the framing of the Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development in Jamaica. I welcome this opportunity to acknowledge the Board of Directors, its staff and the implementing agencies that have all responded so readily to the challenge.
Mr. Speaker, these are the major transformational projects that we have now and as we speak others are being developed. Just last week we toured Falmouth to initiate discussions and to make an assessment of what needs to be done. We are applying the same inclusive approach, which has been very successful in Ocho Rios and have established a Stakeholders’ Committee to spearhead the drive to effect infrastructural improvements.
Mr. Speaker as well as the major transformative projects, the Ministry with funding from TEF is also seeking to implement a number of smaller initiatives and projects. Some of these are:
Mr. Speaker the resort boards are also working on a number of other projects slated to start this summer.
The investments and the infrastructural improvements that I have described Mr. Speaker, will enhance our tourism product, enabling our hotels to command better rates, which will increase earnings and the industry’s yield from each visitor.
Mr. Speaker, as I hold this baton, we intend to deliver on this vision of making Tourism for All by:
Entertainment chaired by a Council which will seek to deepen the linkages.
Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to reiterate what we are seeking to achieve; building a sector, the benefits of which can resonate across all areas of Jamaican life. Tourism for all.
We want to develop our country so that we can enjoy our heritage and culture, our beaches and landscape and the visitors to our island can come and enjoy it with us. Tourism for all.
We want to create an industry where there is an understanding among all the sectors, of the contribution of tourism, which is so manifest to the rest of the country; where the benefits of tourism are for all.
Mr. Speaker, let us all unite to deliver on this vision of making Tourism for All.