A backbone of smaller businesses will be vital to boosting resilience in the hospitality sector, according to Jamaica minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett.
Speaking earlier, he told an industry audience: “I want to stress micro-, small- and medium-size tourism enterprises (MSMEs) are an important element within the broader discussion on bolstering our systems, processes and people for recovery and growth.
“Particularly so, because these 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 per cent of the private sector.”
Minister Bartlett was speaking at a United Nations Development Programme seminar on financial resilience and sustainability for tourism entrepreneurs.
The event was held in partnership with the European Union – Latin America and Caribbean Foundation.
It was the third session in a cycle of five events seeking to foster a bi-regional and multi-stakeholder dialogue for sustainable tourism.
However, there are hurdles for MSMEs to overcome if they are to be successful.
“MSMEs are constrained by market access restrictions and limited access to new technologies,” added Bartlett.
“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, formalisation of their activities and development of business continuity plans which augur well for building their resilience to traditional and emerging exogenous shocks.”
Minister Bartlett argued Jamaica had sought to support smaller organisations in the tourism sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Early in the pandemic, the Jamaican government recognised the need to enable and support this vulnerable sector for their survival and, by extension, the survival of the sector and economy,” he explained.
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,” Bartlett added.
“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.”