Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said his Ministry is committed to driving the capacity of Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs) that provide goods and services within the tourism sector. This commitment was underscored at today’s handover of J$350 million to the EXIM Bank from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to facilitate a loan facility for these local suppliers.
This figure represents the final tranche of the total amount provided by TEF to the EXIM Bank.
Speaking at the handover ceremony Minister Bartlett said, “More than 80% of tourism is driven by SMTEs but only 20% of tourism resources go back to them and part of that reason is capacity, the smaller players need to grow, they need to expand. They have ideas and tremendous capabilities but they lack capital.
So to help these small suppliers build the capacity to compete and benefit more from the value change we partnered with the EXIM Bank and put J$1 billion to be on loan to them.”
The loan facility provides for funding to Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises belonging to the areas of gastronomy, small accommodations, shopping network, manufacturing, services, spa and wellness, domestic tours and car rentals.
One of the beneficiaries of the loan scheme, ESB Hotel and Restaurant Supplies highlighted that having accessed a loan through the facility, their business saw a 40% increase in sales in the first year and a 75% increase in the second year.
“As we are talking to the hotels about utilizing more of the local goods and services provided by our suppliers, we have to build the capacity of our Jamaicans to provide those service so that they have no excuse.
We want our SMTEs to know that the future for demand of supplies for the sector is going to hit the roof as in the next three years we will bring over 7000 new rooms on stream. Jamaica’s tourism is about to experience unprecedented grow but to go there we must take the people with us and to do so we must build their capacity to deliver on these demands,” Minister Bartlett added.
Executive Director of the TEF, Dr. Carey Wallace indicated that, “The uptake has been very good and as at November 14, 2018, EXIM received fifty one (51) completed loan applications, totaling J$941.9 million, under the SMTE loan program.”
In applauding the initiative, Managing Director of the EXIM Bank, Lisa Bell said, “Through this loan facility we have seen transformation of small and medium sized entities across the length and breadth of this country. The numbers say one thing but the actual transformation of an entity, like the doubling of products and expansion of offerings, is where you really see the benefit of the program.”
The loan supports entities with at least 35% of its revenue derived from Tourism and is offered at a maximum of Twenty Five million (J$25,000,000) and a minimum of 5 million (J$5,000,000) at an interest rate of four and a half percent (4.5%) per annum for a maximum term of 5 years.