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Prime Minister dismisses 'tourism bungling' claims for new tactics to boost Jamaica holidays

  • 19-Aug-10 10:45
  • Jamaica
  • Holiday Industry

Jamaica's prime minister, Edmund Bartlett has rejected recent claims opposing his new tourism developments plans and branding them as a form of "touris bungling". Bartlett hit back at critics by outlining his list of recent achievements.

Prime Minister dismisses 'tourism bungling' claims for new tactics to boost Jamaica holidays

Sparking much debate about the future of Jamaica holidays, Jamaica’s tourism minister Ed Bartlett has rejected a recent claim by the Opposition that there was bungling in the announcement of the Tourism Industry Refurbishing programme. Such a claim was made by the Opposition spokesman on tourism, Dr Wykeham McNeill, who was critical of the programme, under which tourism entrepreneurs would be granted waivers and incentives to upgrade their products to make their Jamaica holidays packages more competitive.

After announcing the programme 3 weeks ago, Bartlett then warned that the initiative was being reviewed and it would take another 2 to 3 months for it to be implemented. The primary reason for delaying the programme is the study being undertaken to review all waivers and incentives to decide which ones should be scrapped. While the review is underway, a freeze has been imposed on all waivers and grants effective on 1st August, 2010. However, the Tourism Industry Refurbishing Programme was approved on 26th July.

Bartlett says Dr McNeill is being troublesome because the Government remains committed to implementing the programme. However, Dr McNeill is maintaining that the entire development appears untidy and demands a full explanation on how it will be developed and how long it would take for Jamaica holidays and all those involved in the Jamaica holiday industry to see the benefits.

Stung by increasing criticisms from players in the industry, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett fired back Wednesday, as he outlined his list of achievements in the Jamaica holidays market. Nevertheless, it was clear that Bartlett was struggling to extract the administration from its latest gaffe which has left major players in the industry fuming. The administration was caught with egg on its face when it was forced to withdraw the new waiver scheme, the Tourism Industry Refurbishing Programme (TIRP), just days after it was introduced.

"The commitment to the TIRP remains. The timeline that we hope to have it fully incorporated is two to three months," Bartlett told journalists on Wednesday at the post-Cabinet press briefing.

"In the interim, the tourism incentives that are statutory commitments remain so that whatever space exist within those we can utilise to the fullest to ensure that the sector remains in full gear until this new policy is formulated," Bartlett added.

He was responding to critics who noted that just over two weeks ago Bartlett had proudly announced that Jamaica hotels were to get a 10 % duty waiver on the importation of material to be used for the refurbishment of their facilities, under the TIRP progrramme.

That announcement was welcomed by president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Wayne Cummings, who described it as a bold move that would encourage investors to put funds in the Jamaica holidays market. Adam Stewart, chief executive officer of Sandals Resorts International also endorsed the move and announced that it would lead his group to spend US$20 million to refurbish its properties in Jamaica.

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