Assistance Available For Agro-Tourism Projects

Sheena Forde Top Stories

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There is financing and technical assistance available to persons with projects or businesses in the agro-tourism sector.

Chief Tourism Development Officer in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Nicole Alleyne, highlighted the financing options available at the second day of a two-day Agro-Tourism Policy Setting Workshop, being held at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel.

She stated that financing could be accessed either through the Tourism Development Act, Cap. 341, the Trust Loan Fund, Fund Access and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Ms. Alleyne gave examples of the type of financing available from each institution.  She noted that the Tourism Development Act, Cap. 341 provides duty-free and income tax concessions for approved tourism projects, which develop linkages between the tourism sector and other economic sectors, such as agriculture and certain tourism entities.

She said the Trust Loan Fund, which falls under the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, offers loans up to $5,000 to first time applicants, with a five per cent interest rate, and a negotiable repayment moratorium.

Fund Access, which also falls under the ministry, caters to the development of micro and small businesses and offers a variety of business loans.  A major part of the loan involves providing technical assistance, that is, training in how to prepare a business plan.

The Chief Tourism Development Officer stated that the GEF has a small grants programme, which provides technical support and financing of up to $50,000 directly to local communities, including indigenous people, community-based organizations and other non-governmental groups, whose projects seek to conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people’s well-being and livelihoods.

Projects under the GEF grant programme could be in areas such as biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, land degradation and sustainable forest management.

Also making presentations on available technical support and financing was the Enterprise Growth Fund Limited’s Investment Analyst, Rohan Cumberbatch.  He mentioned that the Agricultural Development Fund offers farmers a loan from $50,000 up to $1 million.

The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s (BIDC) Business Development Officer, Marc Ifill, stressed that although BIDC offered no financing, it provides a range of free advisory services for companies entering the market for the first time, or looking to expand operations.

Other areas discussed at the workshop included challenges and opportunities in supplying certified fresh produce to the hospitality sector; linking farmers to agribusiness for quality products; supplying seafood to the tourism sector; and marketing and development of value-added, health and wellness and farm-based tourism products.

sheena.forde@barbados.gov.bb

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