Big bucks for environment initiatives
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) is to spend US$500 million on environmental initiatives.
Of the amount committed, US$350 million is to go to the beautification and maintenance of verges within the tourist resort areas under the management of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and the administration of the National Solid Waste Management Agency (NSWMA).
The TEF was forced to take over the resort town beautification programme, formerly managed by the National Works Agency (NWA), after the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) pulled out over a year ago.
Making the announcement at a special stakeholders meeting at the Half Moon in Montego Bay on Thursday, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill said if tourism is not managed with vigilance, it could threaten the very factors that attract visitors to the island.
"This is why we treat, as a matter of priority, environmental management and the mitigation of potential damage to the environment."
His comments echoed statements he made at the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) 'Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica' campaign in Kingston on Wednesday.
Quick to point out that his ministry took special interest in these matters not merely to ensure the sustainability of the industry, but equally to protect and preserve the environment for the Jamaican people, McNeill stated that one of the tenets of the Tourism Master Plan is sustainable development, a key part of which is environmental sustainability.
"We play an active and vigilant role in environmental protection and preservation in partnership with governmental and non-governmental agencies, stakeholders and communities."
Of the $500 million, US$34.5 million will go to the JET, US$105 million to the National Environment and Planning Agency, and US$50 million to the Montego Bay Marine Park.