ST JAMES, Jamaica - Jamaica’s groundbreaking Tourism Workers Pension Scheme could become a model for other Caribbean countries, following interest shown by some regional leaders in adopting the initiative.
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that regional heads attending the 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace, held recently in Barbados, were “very receptive” to the idea, especially since it has already been successfully implemented in Jamaica.
“An important consideration is that it has tremendous implications for capital formation across the Caribbean because there are one million workers in the tourism sector in the region, 643,000 of which are working directly in the industry and the others indirectly,” he pointed out.
“And, if that pension plan is taken across the region as Jamaica has it, there is the potential to create a level of domestic savings the size of which the region would never have seen. Imagine the thought of providing a pool of low-cost funds to build the Caribbean,” he noted further.
Minister Bartlett was delivering the main address at the Hall of Fame Induction dinner of the 34th Sales Congress of the Caribbean Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (CARAIFA), held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St James on May 14.
The five-day congress, which concludes May 18, brings together life insurance and financial advisors from across the region to provide pertinent and current information that would help them improve the delivery of their services to clients in the Caribbean.
Bartlett, in his address, said with Jamaica’s Tourism Workers Pension Scheme now fully operational, the country now needs a comprehensive health plan for the workers of the industry.
He said the time is ripe for the insurance sector to craft an instrument that will enable a health security arrangement that will benefit workers in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
Referencing the theme for the event, ‘Resilience, Rising Above Challenges’, Minister Bartlett said that Caribbean insurance companies can play a critical role in helping to protect the tourism sector in the face of future crises.
Citing the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said that the insurance industry “came on board as a safety valve to give assurance to visitors that they had protection if anything happened when they arrived at the destination”.
“This was integral to the early recovery of the industry,” he pointed out.