IN a bid to ensure that they were prepared to make the most of the winter tourist season which ends on April 30, the Tourism Linkages Network (TLN) recently distributed more than 600 grants valued at approximately $21 million to craft traders in 14 craft markets across five parishes. TLN is a part of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
“The tourist industry is recovering steadily and we wanted to guarantee that our craft vendors were completely equipped to reap the rewards. We know that the industry remained relatively dormant for the majority of last year as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Therefore, we are confident that these funds will go a long way in helping them to get back on their feet,” said Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
The initiative, dubbed the Special Winter Tourist Season Capacity Building Support Programme, was specifically developed to assist craft vendors who were greatly impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic and needed support to build capacity to better meet the expected increased demand during the winter tourist season, which began on December 15.
A total of 102 grants were distributed in Westmoreland, 345 in St Ann, 17 in Portland, 48 in Kingston, and 179 vendors from Montego Bay also benefited.
To qualify, vendors had to be licensed, vaccinated, and operate their businesses in markets that meet health and safety guidelines outlined by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).
“The craft vendors are integral to the authentic Jamaican experience our visitors have when they arrive on our shores, and we know that the sector’s closure had a significant financial impact on their industry. The Tourism Enhancement Fund vows to also continue to facilitate all our tourism partners by providing them with the support they need to best serve the sector,” said executive director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Dr Carey Wallace.
The Tourism Enhancement Fund is a public body of the Ministry of Tourism. Its role is to lead tourism innovation in the areas of transformational, infrastructural and sustainable projects; human capital development; and tourism linkages through the applied utilisation of research data.
The TEF partners with local, international, public and private stakeholders to advance the strategies of the Ministry of Tourism and its public bodies.