The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, JHTA, is calling on the government to back away from its intention to move money earmarked for the Tourism Enhancement Fund, TEF, to the Consolidated Fund.
The move was announced by Finance Minister, Audley Shaw, during his budget presentation last week Thursday.
The JHTA feels the move runs contrary to the established use of the TEF, which is to maintain and enhance the country’s tourism product.
The move announced by the Finance Minister affects not only the TEF, but the CHASE Fund and the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority.
Minister Shaw says the revenues would instead go to the central government, and an allocation made to the respective organizations.
But JHTA President, Omar Robinson, is not amused. Speaking with Nationwide News today, he says it doesn’t augur well for the tourism industry.
In a strongly worded open letter to the Finance Minister yesterday, Mr. Robinson says he takes great offence to even the remote possibility the funds could be arbitrarily removed from the oversight of its board.
He says the JHTA will not stand by and watch the fund be dismantled through what they see as ‘ill-conceived’ garnishing.
Mr. Robinson says the move was done without any consultation with the JHTA, which is one of the board members to the TEF.
He’s calling on both the Finance Minister and Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, to discuss the matter.
Nationwide tried to contact the Tourism Minister but calls to his phone went to voicemail.