Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Bartlett calls for more support for SMEs in tourism

Published:Wednesday | November 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett (centre) looks on as Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Dr Taleb Rifai (left) greets President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina Sánchez. The occasion was the opening ceremony for the UNWTO Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, ‘Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism’, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, yesterday.

Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says more must be done by multi lateral financial institutions to support the operations of small and medium enterprises (SME) operating in the tourism industry across the world.

According to Bartlett, less than one per cent or a measly US$235 million dollars in loan support was received by the smaller players in the sector last year.

"Eighty per cent of global tourism is driven by small and medium tourism enterprises, but they don't get eighty per cent of the resources from tourism, the flows go the other way around. It is 20 per cent that benefits from tourism," said Bartlett in an interview with The Gleaner after his presentation at the opening ceremony at the UNWTO Global Conference on Jobs and inclusive growth at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Montego Bay yesterday.

"This means that if $10 is spent by the tourist, eight dollars go to the big man and two (dollars) go to the little man, even though the little men is eighty per cent of tourism."

According to Bartlett, Jamaica remains one of the few countries in the world where the revenue is outpacing growth, with revenue growing at 10.5 per cent, while arrivals stand at seven per cent. This he attributes to the networks established to ensure the tourism expenditure reaches local communities.

The tourism sector continues to be a catalyst for economic growth among developing countries.

Travel and tourism showing resilience

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Travel and Tourism Economic Impact 2017 Report found that despite facing increased threats related to global terrorism and political instability in many countries, travel and tourism continued to show resilience in 2016, contributing direct GDP growth of 3.1 per cent supporting six million net additional jobs in the sector.

In total, travel and tourism generated US$7.6 trillion or 10.2 per cent of global GDP and 292 million jobs in 2016, which is equivalent to one in 10 jobs in the global economy.

Data compiled for 2017 have so far revealed that international tourist arrivals worldwide grew by six per cent between January to April when compared to the corresponding period last year, with business confidence reaching its highest levels in a decade. The latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer also shows that destinations worldwide received 369 million international tourists (overnight) in the first four months of the year, 21 million more than in the same months of 2016.

mark.titus@gleanerjm.com