Bahamas joins IDB ‘innovation challenge’

Bahamas joins IDB ‘innovation challenge’
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NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas is one of 15 countries selected to participate in the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) ‘innovation challenge’ as it seeks to identify business models to transform and revitalize the tourism sector.

The IDB said in a release yesterday that through its innovation laboratory IDB Lab and in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), it is seeking to identify business models to transform and revitalize the tourism sector.

To this end, the IDB is launching an innovation 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 said.

It added: “IDB Lab will consider public and private sector candidates to implement the project in the following 15 countries: Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.” According to World Travel and Tourism Council data among the 15 countries, in 2019 tourism’s total contribution to employment was the highest at 52.2 percent and again the highest in terms of total contribution to GDP at 43.3 percent. Belize was the second closet nation in each ranking at a distant 39.3 percent and 37.2 percent respectively.

Requests for non-reimbursable financing for technical assistance can go from US$250,000 to US$500,000. In the case of loans, amounts can range from US$500,000 to US$2,000,000.

Applicants will be expected to contribute with at least 50 per cent of the project’s total budget.

The tourism sector is among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. In the 15 countries selected for the contest, the average contribution of tourism to GDP is 16.4 percent.

The release added: “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 percent. Tourism’s share of total exports is also significant—in 8 of the 15 countries it represents more than 20 percent of exports.”