Opposition Spokesperson on Tourism and Travel Service Development, Mr. Edmund Bartlett yesterday in his Sectoral Debate presentation questioned whether the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) is on a path to bankruptcy. Mr. Bartlett pointed out that last year, the previous administration, increased the TEF contribution and ring fenced half of it for marketing and airlift support.
Mr. Bartlett noted that despite the fact that the TEF’s role is to stimulate product renewal and destination crispness, as it stands now, it is being noised abroad that the TEF will be pumping close to JA$1 billion into the Jamaica House project in London, England. This would be in addition to nearly a JA$1 billion for JEEP which was NOT recorded in the Public Bodies estimate of revenues and expenditure.
Additionally, the Jamaica Tourist Board, JAMVAC and number of tourism related projects are now primarily funded by TEF and the overall tourism Ministry budget is funded to the tune of 60%. Mr. Bartlett said that, the TEF is in essence taking on the role of the Consolidated Fund and that the mathematics makes no sense as on this trajectory the TEF will spend more than its earns.
Mr. Bartlett argued that when the previous administration was in office in addition to marketing, advertising and tourism related events promotion TEF funds were used to:
- Finance small and micro tourism entities hard-hit by recession. We partnered with Jamaica National for loans with interest rates below 5 %
- We carried out community enrichment development programs for communities in and around resort areas in St. Ann, St. James and Westmoreland, and;
- Product renewal with the upgrading of Devon House, craft markets across the island, the Rio Nuevo battle site, Hope Gardens, Cinchona Gardens, the elegant corridor, environmental improvements, the Montego Bay Civic Centre, Port Royal heritage sites and improving the immigration arrivals experience.
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