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Suspension on issuing new tourism licenses in Jamaica recommended by Working Group

Suspension on issuing new tourism licenses in Jamaica recommended by Working Group

jamica Minister of Tourism, the Hon Edmund Bartlett has signaled that with the current linkages challenges in the tourism industry, the transportation and attractions sectors have come into sharp focus by the Wilfred Baghaloo led Tourism Working Group. This decision is based on recommendations from the working group. Baghaloo is a senior executive at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

“Since the working group was formed in July, there has been in excess of twenty meetings with local stakeholders particularly in the transportation, tour operator services and attractions sectors as well as destination management companies. From these meetings it has been highlighted that several gaps exist which the working group will be urgently reviewing so as to provide recommendations on the way forward” said Minister Bartlett.

“We also recognize the huge investments made by thousands of local investors including JUTA, JCAL, Maxi, Destination Management Companies, and the large hotel operators and as such there must be a balance and equity among these suppliers which may require a policy framework at the national level. My Ministry remains committed to ironing out the issues being faced by our local suppliers to ensure they experience more economic growth in the value chain” added Minister Bartlett.

Over the years, local stakeholders have invested between $35 billion to $45 billion because of the massive influx of investments including cruise and hotels.

Mr. Baghaloo, who leads the technical arrangements for the Tourism Working Group said the next set of activities is to meet with foreign investors to get their perspective on the matter. He emphasized, “It is critical we get the right balance between the local and foreign investors to ensure the sector continues to grow for the mutual benefit of all. One current recommendation is the suspension on the issuance of any new Domestic Tour Operator and Attraction Licences until the committee finishes its work, which is expected to be early next year.”

Mr. Baghaloo added that “We Jamaicans need to be mindful of the level of substantial risk the investors are taking, but equally the foreign investors need to be cognizant that growth must be felt by the people that participate in the industry on a daily basis.”

If not, the wider public will not participate in the industry in a productive and structured manner which will cause dysfunctional behaviour such as tourist harassment at the points of entries – airports, seaports, and at the hotels themselves. We are bordering a crisis and we need to act fast.”

The Tourism Working Group, established on July 12, was set up to review a range of issues within the sector including the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA), work permits, ground transportation and entertainment, among others.