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Sinckler outlines tourism plans


CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Sinckler outlines tourism plans

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Tourism is a key focus of this year’s Budget with Minister of Tourism Chris Sinckler outlining some key plans to take the sector forward.
In his presentation of the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in the House of Assembly this evening, Sinckler detailed some of the plans for industry.
“Government proposes over the next 18 months to expend an additional US50 million dollars in marketing and promotional activities of the BTA starting with our traditional source markets and working our way into some of the newer growth areas. US$13 million of this will go immediately to settle all liabilities of the Authority with the balance earmarked for a new aggressive marketing and airlift support programme to be unveiled by the BTA in the coming weeks. These funds will be sourced from a proposed US$100 million fiscal Policy Based Loan to be negotiated with the IADB later this year.
“As an adjunct to this the BTA will, in a special collaboration with the National Cultural Foundation and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, launch the Barbados International Culture and Sports Tourism Promotion Initiative starting next year. This Initiative will focus specially on establishing Barbados as the leading international events logistics and promotion hub.
He said the events being targeted will be The English/West Indies cricket tour games in Barbados slated for February /March 2013; The Barbados Reggae Festival in April; The Top Gear Motor Sports Initiative in May; Crop Over Festival June through August; The Caribbean Premier League Cricket Tournament in August/September; The Barbados International Arts and Music Festival in September/October; the Food, Wine and Rum Festival in November; and a new International Yacht Race in December.
“The goal of this initiative is to attract a maximum number of tourists to our shores and ensuring the country has a complete tourism calendar right across the year. Government will make an initial investment of BDS$20 million to sponsor and/or promote these events for maximum return”.
Sinckler said this year’s Crop Over and CPL showed that Barbados could make “serious purchase” in this market adding that it was the intention to exploit it.
 He noted that the $50 million dollar Hotel Refurbishment Fund announced in last year’s Budget was now ready to receive applications from registered tourism accommodation establishments. The Fund, he said, was currently being implemented through an expansion of the Industrial Credit Fund and Credit Guarantee Schemes administered by the Central Bank of Barbados”.
Sinckler said Government, working through the BTII and with private investors in the hospitality sector, there was a plan to make a substantial push to bring at least 1 000 rooms back into production in the sector.
“Government will take the lead in initiating the purchase and rebuilding or refurbishment of two major properties on the island that have gone out of business in the last few years. These will be the Almond Beach Resort which we have already announced and the Silver Sands Hotel. These will be done by accessing low-cost financing from the People’s Republic of China for the reconstruction of the properties which will then be sold and/or reopened under international brand name management. Work on both these properties should start in the latter half of 2014, regulatory approvals permitting, and will allow for the generation of close to 350 million Barbados dollars in investment with at least 600 jobs being created during construction” he added.

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