Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Pension scheme and housing for tourism workers

Published:Friday | February 5, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill (right) has the attention of general manager of the Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara, Diego Concha (left) and Kevin Froemming, executive vice president, at the Eminence Awards on Tuesday night in Montego Bay, St James.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Tourism workers are to benefit from a contributory pension scheme as of January 2017 and better access to housing through the intervention of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

Addressing staff at the Hyatt Ziva and the Hyatt Zilara's Eminence Awards Tuesday night in Montego Bay, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill made the announcement, which has been years in the works.

Research shows that only six per cent of tourism workers have pension plans, while many are unable to qualify for National Housing Trust (NHT) loans.

"We aim to change this by having an overarching pension scheme in place by 2017," McNeill told the gathering, noting that his ministry was working closely with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and other stakeholders to ensure that these workers, who have given years of exemplary service to the industry, can retire without financial worries.

He said that he was sure that he could count on similar cooperation as he looked to the future to develop workable strategies for the provision of housing for tourism workers.

His ministry is working in tandem with the TEF to identify lands that will be acquired for structured development. The workers will then qualify through the NHT.

"When they go to apply for houses, they can't get the loans," he lamented, adding that one of the reasons the TEF was created was to develop and enhance tourism, and the workers were an integral part of that equation.

The tourism minister lauded the Hyatt staff for being true brand ambassadors, saying, "The Jamaican vacation is as much about our people as it is about our beaches and our vibrant culture."

According to McNeill, ultimately, it is the experience that visitors take away that determines the success of their visit.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com