The Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has urged financial institutions, including the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for establishing opportunities for small and Medium Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs), and to invest more in tourism in the region.
Bartlett said, “Even though one in 11 workers in the world work with the tourism industry, and some$7.6 trillion of tourism expenditure happened last year globally, only a very meagre 0.15% of multilateral and donor agency funds go into tourism globally — that is less than a quarter of one percent. This amounts to less than$250 million of all the loans provided went to the sector. There has to be a change therefore in that whole attitude towards the industry so that more can be provided for the people who can contribute to the development of the region.”
Minister Bartlett said that the banking system in the Caribbean is yet to come to terms with the demand for tourism and development that will allow SMTEs to have access to the necessary funds. The Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world, with more than 50% of GDP and one in five workers being tourism related for at least 16 of 28 nations in the Caribbean.
A 2014 report conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) showed that the Caribbean, though being the most tourism-dependent region on earth, had the highest level of leakage of tourism expenditure.