Stand-Off Looming Over TEF

The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, JHTA and the government could be on a collision course over the Tourism Enhancement Fund, TEF.

The JHTA is vowing to lobby its international partners to protest against the move to redirect money for the Fund into the central government treasury.

That’s according to Past President of the JHTA, Wayne Cummings.

Finance Minister, Audley Shaw, announced the measure during his budget presentation two weeks ago.

It will in effect redirect the revenue generated from the tax on tourist airline and cruise tickets to the consolidated fund.

The Air tax is currently collected by the International Air Transport Association, IATA on behalf of the government.

Mr. Cummings says the JHTA will never agree to the money being put in the Consolidated Fund.

He says the government cannot be trusted to perform with the expediency required by the TEF.

Meanwhile, JHTA President, Omar Robinson, says the TEF already puts a significant portion of its revenue toward government related projects.

He was responding to a suggestion by the Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
The hotelier has suggested that 50-percent of the funds from the TEF go to the government over the next five years.

In an article in the Sunday Observer, Mr. Stewart is quoted as saying that it does the tourism industry no good to be inward-looking while the country is in such great need.

He argued that the industry has benefited from living on a beautiful island which is the basis of the creation of a viable sector.

Mr. Robinson says the comments of Mr. Stewart and other stakeholders in the industry will be noted.