Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides $10 million loan to boost TDC business incubation centers

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides $10 million loan to boost TDC business incubation centers
Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper makes his contribution during the 2022/2023 Budget debate in the House of Assembly on June 15, 2022. (BIS Photos Kemuel Stubbs)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government has agreed to a $10 million loan facility from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to fund the Tourism Development Corporation’s Business Incubation Centres Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper revealed yesterday.

Cooper during his budget communication in Parliament said: “I am pleased to announce that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas have agreed to a loan facility to fund the Tourism Development Corporation’s Business Incubation Centers.”

The $10 million loan has been secured from The Saudi Fund for Development on extremely favorable terms including a five-year delay on principal repayments. The money will be deposited into the Tourism Development Fund and will be used to develop incubation centers in Nassau, Grand Bahama and Exuma.

The Bahamas Incubation Center Project seeks to accelerate local economic development and increase entrepreneurial opportunities in the tourism sector by providing young, fledgling businesses with the necessary support and resources to assist them in developing sustainable, profitable businesses. 

Cooper explained that a portion of the loan will also be used to fund grants and small loans from the TDC to entrepreneurs on every island across The Bahamas, including Eleuthera, North Andros and The Berry Islands and Abaco. 

The TDC, previously a department in the Ministry of Tourism, has been repurposed to focus on sustained support for tourism entrepreneurs, improving the local product, and boosting the Bahamian economy. It is now a statutory body responsible for developing, enhancing, and diversifying tourism products and experiences, while empowering Bahamians. The TDC establishes a Tourism Development Fund controlled by its board and aims to promote domestic entrepreneurship, investment, and incentives in the tourism industry. Additionally, it facilitates ease of doing business, fosters tourism entrepreneurial growth, and spreads the benefits of tourism across the economy. The TDC will also create a registry for experienced Bahamian executives affected by displacement, as we require their expertise to cope with the significant growth we are experiencing.

Cooper also noted that one of the major impediments to tours and activities not being supported by the cruise lines is insurance.

“What the TDC did was develop a blanket insurance program to ensure access by small operators who would not typically be able to afford $1 – $2 million of public liability insurance coverage. The new structure and abilities of the Tourism Development Corporation put us firmly on the right track to empower Bahamians and enhance our tourism product. This is truly powerful and transformative legislation, and we are proud of it,” he said.