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TEF to Nurture New and Start-Up Tourism Enterprises

Release Date: 
Wednesday, July 7, 2021 - 15:15

KINGSTON, Jamaica; June 17, 2021:  As part of efforts to boost the competitiveness of the local tourism product, which has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Tourism will be developing an Innovation-based Tourism Incubator (ITI). The initiative, led by the Tourism Enhancement Fund, will support entrepreneurs in converting innovative ideas into viable businesses.

Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett made the announcement during his Sectoral Debate closing presentation in Gordon House recently, under the theme: Recovering Faster, Stronger and Better.

“We believe that tourism is driven by ideas and these ideas have the power to drive the creation of experiences. The ability to convert ideas into material goods and services is the key to differentiating your destination…. And so, the Ministry of Tourism intends to establish a tourism incubator to nurture new and start-up enterprises,” said Minister Bartlett.

This Innovation-Based Business Incubator will provide a unique and highly flexible combination of services, including business support services and infrastructure. It will also nurture these entrepreneurs and support them through the early stages of development and execution.

To deliver these services, TEF will be working with existing stakeholders, but will also seek to expand the list of potential partners. These include, the University of Technology Jamaica, the University of the West Indies (Mona), Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).

“We will also be seeking partnerships for the provision of grants and loans to support the development and commercialisation of ideas generated from the incubator,” said the Minister. 

The TEF will then take decisive steps by 2023 to foster innovative ideas on how Jamaica can differentiate the destination from our competition.

The business ideas will be assessed based on various criteria. The ITI will only accept ideas that are an innovation and will enhance the tourism sector. The ITI will also only support original ideas that are useful, or practical in nature from its function to its design.  The idea must also have a significant effect on the tourism industry.

“I want to make it clear that the idea does not have to be an invention. It is not necessarily bringing new things from scratch but is about adding value to what you have. Be creative and ensure that you can do more with what you have,” said Bartlett.

The initiative will start with an open call to all members of the public who have ideas for new tourism products or services, to submit their ideas for review by a panel. Successful candidates will be invited to a boot camp, which will provide participants with the training and support needed to develop their business idea, business model and business plan; develop minimum viable products (MVPs) etc. and to boost the chances of arriving at an effective start-up.

They will then be invited to participate in a “Shark Tank” style Investor Selection Event, to make their product/service pitch to the panellists, who will include potential investors. The ITI will operate virtually and execute its mandate for each entrepreneur over a 2-year period.

“If the investors are not interested, we will then direct the entrepreneurs to the EXIM Bank where we have invested $1 billion to enable loans for small and medium tourism enterprises. They will also have the option to seek assistance from the Jamaica National Bank, where we have $200 million for a similar purpose,” said the Minister.

“In other words we are saying, incentivise ideas, remove the need for collateral where young people have no assets but have ideas and let us convert ideas into practical goods that can change the lives of the people of our country,” he added.