Entry fees are to be removed from public attractions that are funded and developed through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) so that Jamaicans can have free access to the facilities, says Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett.
Bartlett emphasised though, that once inside, members of the public are being encouraged to purchase items on display, such as food and refreshments, to help make sure that the attractions can be maintained and are of a high quality.
He was speaking to journalists after a Destination Assurance tour of several locations in St Elizabeth with tourism stakeholders and other ministry officials on Thursday.
Bartlett reminded that the TEF is to undertake three major beach-development projects across the island in the 2023-2024 fiscal year, adding that those beaches will not come with any entrance fee.
“The intention is to create world-class facilities that we can all be proud of. The TEF project aims to enhance public access to beaches to ensure their availability with all the necessary amenities and safety measures in place,” he said.
Bartlett added that there will also be a move to ensure that all such attractions, without exception, are licensed and regulated, pointing out that this will be a way to ensure that public order is preserved and destination assurance is protected.
“Attractions that are free cannot be licensed. What currently exists is that you must pay a fee. We are going to abolish that requirement for a fee and be able to license everybody to be able to accommodate all visitors. But while we do that, we are going to insist on consistency of the offerings,” he emphasised.
The locations toured included the parish capital, Black River, where a mural depicting the history of the town was unveiled; the Lashings Beach Club; Newell High School; the Lionel Densham Aerodrome, and Lovers’ Leap.
Manchester is also a stop on the South Coast leg of the Destination Assurance island-wide tour, which aims to develop and implement strategies towards improving the tourism value chain in Jamaica.
In the meantime, the minister encouraged students at Newell High School to consider tourism as a viable career path. He said the tourism value chain offers an infinite stream of economic opportunities, from transportation and cuisine to small business ownership and manufacturing.
He also announced plans to introduce to the school’s curriculum, in the new academic year, the Hospitality and Tourism Management Programme (HTMP), which will enable students to receive certification from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), and an associate degree in customer service.
The programme is a collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism’s Jamaica Centre of Tourism Innovation (JCTI) and the Ministry of Education and Youth.