The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says it has approved a US$20 million loan to help Barbados strengthen its global tourism presence.
The Washington-based financial institution said on Wednesday that the loan will assist Barbados in increasing the appeal of its tourism attractions, with a focus on encouraging more spending by visitors on its unique heritage and cultural products, enhancing the digital visibility of Barbados in the global tourism market, and increasing the country’s international aviation connections.
The IDB said tourism is the main driver for the economy of Barbados, and that the tourism industry has repeatedly experienced cyclical peaks and valleys in terms of its total number of visitors and receipts.
In 2015, the IDB said tourism contributed 12 percent of Barbados’ gross domestic product, about 37 percent of total employment, and 60.4 percent of total exports.
The IDB said the loan will finance the implementation of three components linked to tourism development and governance in Barbados.
The first component will finance the development of new tourism venues with an emphasis on “uniquely Barbadian cultural and heritage assets,” the IDB said.
These include 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 National Museum at the Garrison and the Oistins Waterfront.
The IDB said the second component will increase the digital visibility and market awareness of Barbados as a cultural tourism destination in coordination with the private sector.
The third component will fund the design and implementation of a new mechanism to select operating airlines to reinforce air connectivity between Barbados and new markets, the IDB said.
“It is anticipated that this project will help the government of Barbados by increasing the resilience of the country’s tourism sector, enhancing the appeal of the Barbados tourism brand, and connecting Barbados with various new markets,” the IDB said.
It said the program will be executed by Barbados Tourism Investment, Inc. (BTI), which is the official government agency responsible for facilitating infrastructural development for tourism.
The IDB said several tourism entities will collaborate with BTI in the execution of the project in their respective areas of expertise.