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Barbados, IDB sign agreement to strengthen tourism competitiveness

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Finance Minister the Hon. Christopher Sinckler and IDB Chief of Operations, Francisco Urra sign a US$20M loan on Friday March 2, 2018

 

BARBADOS, MARCH 5, 2018 – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has signed a US$20 million loan with the Government of Barbados to increase resilience and revenues in the country’s flagship tourism industry.

This financing will go towards a five-year National Tourism Program focused on stimulating growth and competitiveness in this key economic sector for Barbados, which contributed 12.4% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2017.

The project, which will be managed by the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. (BTII), aims to increase visitor spending on the nation’s heritage and cultural products; to enhance tourism marketing efforts by increasing Barbados’ visibility on digital platforms; and to add airlift options between Barbados and new markets.

The loan was signed on Friday, March 2, by the Honourable Christopher Sinckler, Barbados Minister of Finance, and Francisco Javier Urra, the IDB’s Chief of Operations for Barbados, at Government Headquarters in Bay Street.

Minister Sinckler stated, “The Government and people of Barbados are happy that we’ve been able to come to the stage where we can actually sign the loan for this very important tourism project.”

“Thanks very much to the Inter-American Development Bank for once again finding an appropriate, critical and important opportunity to partner with Barbados in helping to build out our economy and society,” he added.

Finance Minister Sinckler noted that while the government and tourism stakeholders have invested a lot of resources to promote Barbados as a premier tourism destination, there is a need to diversify and differentiate the product and seek new source markets.

Minister Sinckler emphasized that working with the IDB on refreshing the Barbados tourism product was a “win-win” since the IDB was a familiar partner with a strong presence in Latin America – which Barbados has been trying to strengthen as a tourism source market for some time.

IDB’s Urra remarked, “From the Inter-American Development Bank’s perspective, it is a pleasure to see this loan signed. It has been a very inclusive process, benefiting from consultations with civil society, small businesses and entrepreneurs. Barbados is a very mature market, but it has a great range of activities and venues to offer to travelers. The challenge is to maintain the country’s position as a top tourism destination.”

Urra further noted that formalizing the loan signaled the fulfillment of the IDB 2015–2018 Country Strategy with Barbados, which was focused on four priority areas – energy, coast management, transportation and tourism. This new tourism loan brings IDB’s well-diversified portfolio in Barbados to a total of US$191 million. Congratulating the Barbados Government for crafting a clear vision and executing it, Mr. Urra underscored that working with the IDB brings the benefit of a strong field presence and technical expertise to support project execution.

The project’s first component will finance the development of new tourism venues, focusing on uniquely Barbadian cultural and heritage assets, including: a new Visitor Centre in Bridgetown’s Old Town Hall Building; the enhancement of an urban tourist route through historic Bridgetown; and improvements to the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, and the Oistins waterfront. The second component will focus on expanding Barbados’ marketing reach on digital platforms in collaboration with the private sector. The third component will implement a mechanism to boost airlift options between Barbados and new markets.

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