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IDB considering $40m tourism loan

Shawn Cumberbatch

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The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is contemplating lending Government $40 million as part of a major new effort to “reinvigorate” tourism in Barbados.

While the initiative is still at the “preparation” stage, it is primarily focused on the establishment of a National Tourism Programme intended to increase the average daily expenditure by each cruise and long stay visitor and overall tourism receipts.

It will include four studies on the economic analysis of airlift support policies, analysis of main drivers of long haul tourism demand in consolidated and emerging markets, a diagnosis of the tourism online strategy, and the design of new/enhanced tourism products.

A 22-page profile of the project pointed to research showing that Barbados needed to address a series of “structural challenges” that “ exacerbated” the impacts of the challenges the sector faced.

Specific objectives included diversifying travellers’ segments and geographical source markets, improving competitiveness of tourism products, and resolving air connectivity concerns.

“The programme will comprise the following components: diversification/improvement of tourism products to consolidate current visitors and attract new segments in key geographical markets, based on sound understanding of demand determinants and preferences; updating and improvement of marketing strategies, with a special emphasis on the use of on-line channels in a coordinated way with the private sector, in order to rejuvenate Barbados’ tourism branding and to promote the new tourism products proposed in the previous component; and optimisation of the use of public funding for airlift support,” the document stated.

Part of the proposed programme included improving the value of existing tourism attractions and associated plant along the south coast of the island “through improved signage and lighting, tree planting, the installation of park benches, the placement or widening of sidewalks, the construction of sanitation facilities; and minor drainage works”.

“The diversification/improvement of tourism products is expected to cause temporary and minor localized impacts, possibly associated with the construction of sanitation facilities and drainage works. In addition, the projected increased air travel to be generated from additional and new demand segments has the potential to contribute to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

“The operation does not encompass any large-scale investments in infrastructure, the conversion or degradation of critical habitat, or any resettlement and, as such, does not present significant potential negative environmental or social impacts. Overall, given the nature of the activities and investments foreseen, the environmental and social impacts, including disaster risk and climate change impacts are expected to be low,” it added.