US$15million relief fund for Barbados tourism

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, February 26, 2009 – The Barbados government has presented a stimulus package for the tourism sector that will see an initial BDS$15 million (US$7.5 million) being made available to the industry to help it pull through the global economic crisis.
 
The plan for the Tourism Industry Relief Fund (TIRF) was presented this week to parliament by Tourism Minister Richard Sealy who said the money would be given to companies in this country’s main foreign exchange earning sector who incurred losses between January and March last year. But he said they would have to give back to the fund eventually.
 
“When things normalise and profits are back up, then the businesses which received help and are back to a position of profitability can deposit money back in the fund by way of their organisations. That is what makes this different from earlier efforts to revive the sector,” Sealy said, adding that the government would also have discussions with the Tourism Development Corporation, among other agencies, to come up with other mechanisms to replenish the fund.
 
He added that the government would inject more money into the funds in the new financial year in April.
 
“This is about relief for the entire sector, so any player in the sector who can provide the necessary documentation can benefit from the fund,” Sealy said.
 
The required documents would include proper accounting statements and proof of registration with the relevant tourism organisations. Additionally, businesses who receive assistance from the TIRF will not be allowed to cut staff.
 
“It, however, is understood that there may be situations where staff is placed on short weeks or they may have to have certain creative situations that may be applied,” Sealy added.
 
Earlier in his presentation, the Tourism Minister said the TIRF had become necessary because of a fall off in tourism arrivals, a drop in visitor spending, and the decline in the value of the pound, the latter affecting the sector because the United Kingdom is Barbados’ major market.
 
The TIRF will be managed by the Enterprise Growth Fund Limited, but an oversight committee will be set up to ensure that it is properly administered.