NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) seeking to provide greater support for tourism-related entrepreneurs and be a ‘bridge’ between lending institutions and other agencies to provide them with access to funding according to its Chairman Rafique Symonette.
Speaking on the sidelines of the relaunch of the TDC Thursday evening, Symonette explained that the entity is shifting its focus to providing increased support for local tourism entrepreneurs.
“I think what’s changed is that we are trying to focus on local tourism entrepreneurs,” said Symonette.
“For far too long we have spent too much time making tourism entrepreneurs bootstrap their way into the future and you have to get your initial funding from friends and family. There has never been that level of support from the government. The TDC is looking to be that support and to be able to help entrepreneurs go from an idea to be a viable partner with the large hotels and cruise ships.”
He continued: “I think the key thing is linkages. The TDC’s role is to basically focus on being that conduit between development financing institutions and other government agencies so we can help to be that bridge and effectively help them find a way to get access to funding. The goal is that we will ultimately partner with the likes of the Bahamas Development Bank and help entrepreneurs get their business plans to the level where they can get approved for a loan. Often times they have great ideas but can’t get approved for a loan.”
Symonette also noted that many tourism entrepreneurs such as smaller tour operators have been challenged trying to secure insurance that would allow them to access business in the cruise industry.
“One of the challenges that a lot of entrepreneurs have been faced with trying to find their way into the broader cruise industry is the lack of access ot insurance. Many large tour operators get a lot of opportunities because smaller players can’t afford the insurance. The TDC is focus on ensuring that through The Bahamas Association of Onshore Experience (BASE) that there is an insurance program in place that smaller vendors can participate in,” said Symonette.
He added: “Another big initiative is this idea of a directory. We have never had a comprehensive directory of tourism professionals. There has never been one consolidated source so that if a new project comes on stream on there’s a new developer on the scene, they know where they can go to find the talent.”