Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has scrapped plans by the previous administration to merge the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).
The plan to also amalgamate the operations of Jamaica Vacations (JamVac) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) will not be implemented, Dr. McNeil announced at the annual general meeting of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association JHTA) at the Wyndham Hotel recently, according to a release from the Ministry.
Former tourism minister Edmund Bartlett announced the proposed mergers in May last year, but the JHTA opposed the move, arguing specifically that the TEF should remain an independent entity.
Dr. McNeil said “the Tourism Enhancement Fund, TPDCo, Jamaica Vacations and the Jamaica Tourist Board will all remain as separate entities, with the JTB continuing to provide administrative support for JamVac.”
He added that “these agencies will remain the core bodies of the Ministry and will collectively drive our airlift, product development and marketing initiatives.”
Chairman of the new board of TEF, Senator Noel Sloley, and other members have been asked to develop a five year strategic programme to guide the development of the tourism product, the Minister said.
The TEF earns some US$17 million annually from air passenger fees.
Dr. McNeil said the proposed allocation of the fees has been determined, with 50 per cent going towards marketing and airlift, and 50 per cent to product development.
Last year, a determination was also made to increase the fees from US$10 to US$20 per passenger.
According to Dr. McNeil, “for the first time, the additional $10 will be allocated in full to the JTB and JamVac.”
“With this in place, we are anticipating greater efficiency in our marketing spend, for example in the way we purchase advertising spots.” he added.
The Minister said that “currently, due to the uncertainty of the flow of funds, we have had to purchase most of our advertising space close to the placement deadlines. Very shortly we should be able to purchase in advance and so be able to secure better rates.”