- Opening Remarks by Hon Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, for the UNDP/EU-LAC Foundation Seminar on Financial Resilience and Sustainability for Tourism Entrepreneurs.
- Building resilience at all levels is indispensable for advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Its also effectively managing our international commitments for sustained and sustainable growth and development in all its pillars—economic, social and environmental.
The Jamaica Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said:
It is a signal honor for Jamaica to collaborate with our partners at the EU-LAC Foundation and the UNDP for this third session in a cycle of five events seeking to foster bi-regional and multi-stakeholder dialogue for sustainable tourism. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions on sustainability necessarily include a focus on resilience—resilient people, resilient communities, resilient sectors and resilient economies.
I must add that resilience and sustainability have been staples on the priority agenda of the Government of Jamaica. For that reason, the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) was founded pre-pandemic, in recognition of the need for an appropriate space to consider and address disruptions that could threaten our path to development. I note that Professor Lloyd Waller, Executive Director of the GTRCMC, is counted among today’s panellists, and I am sure his presentation will share further insight on the work of that body.
Today’s focus on financial resilience and sustainability for entrepreneurs, and I would want to stress micro, small and medium-size tourism enterprises (MSMTEs), is an important element within the broader discussion on bolstering our systems, processes and people for recovery and growth. Particularly so, because MSMTEs are fundamental to the tourism sector and, as we like to say they are the backbone of the Jamaican economy comprising more than 425,000 companies and representing 90% of the private sector.
Early in the pandemic, the Jamaican Government recognized the need to enable and support this vulnerable sector for their survival and, by extension, the survival of the sector and economy. This included waiving licensing fees to the tune of J$47 million from April 2020 to March 2022 and building out a robust support structure for retooling and recovering from the economic effects of COVID-19. The provision of resilience packages, loan facilitation and grants from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service were further key elements in supporting MSMTEs. Additionally, the Government of Jamaica through public-private partnership has developed the E-commerce National Delivery Solutions (ENDS), an app enabling business continuity during the COVID 19 curfew hours.
MSMEs are constrained by market access restrictions and limited access to new technologies. Further, they are often ill-equipped to respond effectively to disruptions due to inadequate liquidity, limited access to finance and scale which influenced the government’s response for entrepreneurial support. Notwithstanding these challenges, there are significant opportunities for entrepreneurs in terms of e-commerce, formalization of their activities and development of business continuity plans which augur well for building their resilience to traditional and emerging exogenous shocks.
Entrepreneurial and financial resilience requires businesses to be agile, innovative, dynamic and to adopt transformational behaviours and actions for a sustainable model. A huge deposit of resilience is also found in people—our workforce, specifically a skilled and healthy workforce. To this end, as businesses invest in their systems and infrastructure so too must they invest in their people.
As a small island developing state, Jamaica appreciates the high value of collaboration and international cooperation in advancing sustainable development goals. In this regard, dialogues such as this are necessary to allow space to exchange views and explore opportunities for continued partnership to ensure no one is left behind, at the local, national or international level.
I look forward to the outcomes of these sessions, and I call on the organizers and participants to go beyond the usual outcome document to practical projects and engagements of mutual interest and benefit for our people.
Thank you for your attention.