A number of small businesses operating in the tourism industry have increased their competitiveness on the world market as a result of the implementation of a project under the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multi-lateral Investment Fund.
Some of the companies which range from small hotels to agro processors and wood work businesses were given the opportunity to showcase their products during a tour of Pelican Village by officials from the IDB who were in Barbados for the Bank’s Third Annual Meeting of the Civil Society Consulting Group, at Hilton Barbados.
Director of Research and Planning in the Ministry of Tourism, Francia Jordan, told the tour party that the country’s tourism industry had benefitted from MIF, whose aim is to increase competitiveness in the sector and contribute to the overall growth and development of Barbados’ economy. The project is a joint initiative between the IDB, the Ministry of Tourism and the Small Business Association.
Jordan said Barbados had been able to diversify its product from the traditional sun, sea and sand by being aggressive in the market place, exploiting niche products and building on its unique, cultural heritage assets.
“[These businesses] can help the sector to become more competitive. Small businesses are known to be job creators. Thus, if those in the tourism sector find ways to incorporate technology in their businesses to streamline their operations and operate more efficiently, cut costs and find new ways of using existing resources and deliver the best product, they will definitely increase their level of competitiveness and grow and also expand.
“This is important as tourism has become Barbados’ main foreign exchange earner, grossing a total of US $871.9 million in 2012 and employing an average of 12.7 thousand persons. Barbados received a total of 1.1 million visitors in that year from long stay and cruise arrivals,” the Director explained.
The MIF project arose as a result of studies commissioned under the IDB’s Country Strategy for Barbados, and, in particular, the results of the Barbados Tourism Sector Review, Jordan pointed out.
She disclosed that so far, work under both the agro processing and the small hotel clusters had been completed.
“The transfer of knowledge, the research executed, the training workshops conducted, the development of marketing strategies and Information Communication Technologies and the opportunity to produce goods and services to international standards, were some of the elements developed which are vital to enhancing the development of the clusters,” Jordan said.
The tourism official added that projects such as the MIF were critical given that the global economy and the island’s major markets were still under the grip of the recession.