Bartlett urges greater support for tourism enterprises

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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Jamaica's Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says there is a need for greater support of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs), in order to ensure the growth and sustainability of the industry.

Bartlett told the G20 Tourism Ministerial Summit that Jamaica is in the process of organising a summit on SMTEs and the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.

He made the call in a policy brief he presented to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last Thursday.

The policy paper, titled 'The Global Mainstreaming of Small and Medium-Sized Tourism Enterprises', seeks to bring attention to an often under-discussed element of the tourism product — the importance of micro, small and medium-sized tourism enterprises to the sustenance and vitality of the sector.

He was of the view that the time had come to seriously revisit the strategies for supporting the expansion and improvement of this sector of the tourism market. “We are well aware that one of the recurrent concerns among many Jamaicans is that the tourism sector does not sufficiently support sustainable development and that there is negligible reinvestment of tourism profits into the domestic economy,” he noted.

According to Bartlett, the paper seeks to address the issue of leakages which are currently high.

“While the benefits and positive contributions of the tourism sector are well documented and self-evident, there is an emerging global view in many parts of the world that the tourism sector has not maximised its potential to fully contribute to sustainable development,” he said.

“This is due to heavy reliance on foreign imports within the sector, high rates of leakage, insufficient linkages with other segments of the economy, and the belief that tourism revenues remain heavily concentrated within the country's major hotels, especially through the expansion of the all-inclusive concept,” he added.

Bartlett also highlighted the invaluable contribution of the SMTEs to tourism development in Jamaica.

“Jamaica's tourism sector is dominated by a vast network of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises including: artisans and craft vendors, attractions and tours, transportation, beauty shops and textiles, duty-free stores, restaurants and eateries, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, farmers, and distributors of hotel supplies,” he told the meeting.

“The vast network of SMTEs constitute the backbone of the sector, contributing significantly to the authenticity and quality of the tourism experience, enhancing destination competitiveness and contributing to enhanced brand image, the forging of positive local networks and increased productivity,”the tourism minister added.

He noted that, globally, SMTEs account for most of the indirect jobs created through tourism-related activities.

Bartlett believes that SMTEs are critical to Jamaica's tourism growth agenda.

“A closer look at our strategic vision for the growth of the tourism sector over the next five years will reveal that the growth of SMTEs will support several of our key objectives such as: strengthening linkages with other sectors of the economy, particularly the agricultural and manufacturing sectors; strengthening the benefits derived from the industry by local residents and communities; promoting broader participation by all Jamaicans; and ensuring the safety, security and sustainability of the natural and built environments”, he noted.

“We have already identified the main challenges facing SMTEs such as: high level of informality, lack of commercial orientation, lack of market information and market access, insufficient access to capital for upgrading, limited customer training and low ICT diffusion. In Jamaica, the work of some of our agencies, particularly the Tourism Linkages Network, has been helping SMTEs to overcome some of these challenges,” he pointed out.

In presenting the policy paper, Bartlett used the platform to call for increased dialogue and a deeper engagement among stakeholders to develop strategies and policies to expand and possibly mainstream SMTEs.

Japan will host the 9th Meeting of the Tourism Ministers of the G20 economies in Kutchan Town, Hokkaido, in 2019.




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