Jamaica, other C’bean countries in IDB initiative to revitalise tourism sector

WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — Eight Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries are participating in an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) initiative aimed at identifying business models to transform and revitalise the tourism sector.

The IDB said that The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago are among 15 countries in Latin and Central America that are participating in the IDB innovative challenge being launched through its innovation laboratory, IDB Lab, and in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

It said, to this end, it is launching the challenge to which both public and private sector organisations may apply until July 31.

“The challenge aims to identify innovations in two categories: Development of the tourism labour force, which needs to acquire new digital skills for the recovery phase; and environmental sustainability, which includes implementing waste-management measures through circular economy models as well as climate-smart agricultural practices.”

The IDB said that the requests for non-reimbursable financing for technical assistance can go from US$250,000 to US$500,000, adding that in the case of loans, amounts can range from US$500,000 to US$2,000,000.

It said applicants will be expected to contribute at least 50 per cent of the project’s total budget.

According to the UNWTO, the tourism sector is among the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Before the outbreak, tourism was one of the world’s largest economic sectors, supporting one out of every 10 jobs worldwide and accounting for 10.4 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

The IDB said that in the 15 countries selected for this challenge, the average contribution of tourism to GDP is 16.4 per cent.

“On average, tourism accounts for US$1 out of every US$6 contributed to GDP. The industry is also vital for employment generation in these countries, with an average contribution of 17.9 per cent. Tourism’s share of total exports is also significant — in eight of the 15 countries it represents more than 20 per cent of exports.”

The IDB said that the sector is highly resilient and, in the past, has survived unexpected challenges through collaboration and innovation among stakeholders.

“The widespread emergency triggered by COVID-19 provides a unique chance for the tourism industry and its closely linked supply chains to embrace digital transformation and stimulate innovation ecosystems in the public and private sectors. Innovation can help the industry get back on track and emerge from this crisis ready to grow again.”

The IDB said that those eligible to participate in this challenge include entrepreneurs, start-ups, non-governmental organisations, social ventures, public innovation agencies, and other organisations specialised in and knowledgeable of the tourism sector.

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