WASHINGTON, D.C. – Eight Caribbean community (CARICOM) countries are participating in an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) initiative aimed at identifying business models to transform and revitalize the tourism sector, following the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The IDB said The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago are among 15 countries in Latin and Central America 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 it is launching the challenge to which both public and private sector organizations may apply until July 31.
“The challenge aims to identify innovations in two categories: development of the tourism labor 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 noted last month.
The IDB said the requests for non-reimbursable financing for technical assistance can go from $250,000 to $500,000. In the case of loans, amounts can range from $500,000 to $2,000,000. Applicants will be expected to contribute with at least 50 percent of the project’s total budget.
According to the UNWTO, the tourism sector is among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 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 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP). The IDB said that in the 15 countries selected for the challenge, the average contribution of tourism to GDP is 16.4 percent.
“The widespread emergency triggered by COVID-19 provides a unique chance for the tourism industry,” IDB noted. “… Innovation can help the industry get back on track and emerge from this crisis ready to grow again.”