Fri | Oct 23, 2020

Tourism workers to get pension scheme

Published:Wednesday | December 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMOkoye Henry

Western Bureau:

If Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett gets his way, by next year, workers across every spectrum of the tourism industry will be granted the opportunity to benefit from a pension plan.

In outlining his ambitious plan while addressing tourism stakeholders at an appreciation ceremony at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James, Bartlett gave a commitment that by September 2017, the retirement plan will come into being.

Bartlett also stated that the arrangements for the pension scheme were in the works from as far back as his previous tenure as tourism minister.

"The work has gotten to the stage where I am pleased to announce to you that on Monday, the Cabinet of Jamaica has approved the pension plan arrangement for the workers of tourism," Bartlett said.

"So within the next three months, the legislation will be drafted, brought to parliament and will be debated, and we will have it approved," continued Bartlett, noting that it will be a historic achievement within the industry.

The tourism minister also stated that the board of the Tourism Enhancement Fund has already given the approval for the withdrawal of $1 billion to start up the pension plan and are currently awaiting the enactment of the legislation to move things forward.

"What we want to do is ensure that the plans cover all the workers in every category that contributes to the development of the tourism in the country," said Bartlett.

During the ceremony, which was also used to commemorate the start of the 2016-17 winter tourist season, Bartlett welcomed the first visitors of the season, Kingston-born New York-based Celeene Rodriquez and her husband, Wayne.

In what was a colourful affair, Rodriquez and her husband, who arrived in the island on a JetBlue flight, were hosted by minister Bartlett in the Government's VIP airport lounge.

Bartlett later said that he expects this winter season to be the best in Jamaica's history, noting the booking of more rooms that ever, as well as the potential for the creation of thousands of new jobs. Last year, Jamaica entertained more than 3.7 million visitors, who spent approximately $2.56 billion.

"So far for the year, we have had more than three million (visitors)," said Bartlett. "Now we expect that by the end of the year, that number to be closing in on the four million. And they have already spent over $2 billion. We expect by the year's end that that figure will be surpassed by a significant percentage."