Bridgetown 24, March 2021 – The impact of COVID-19 in the Tourism sector is having a suffocating effect in the Eastern Caribbean economies. The pandemic has caused a socio-economic crisis due to the comprehensive cessation of most of aspects of the tourism sector in the region which is the main economic earner for many countries and territories. UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in collaboration with ten countries and territories and many partners, has launched a transformative initiative designed to support governments, national institutions and private sector including Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to quickly adapt and respond to the new needs of a new touristic demand.
Key players in the tourism sector including participating governments, partners, stakeholders and UN agencies joined in the virtual launch of the "Future Tourism: Rethinking Tourism and MSMEs in times of COVID 19" project. The FUTURE-Tourism project was born out of a need to adapt to the new post-COVID environment and to build more resilient economic sectors that are able to adequately respond to exogenous shocks. It aims to support countries and territories to examine tourism revitalisation strategies and provide technical and financial support to MSMEs in the sector.
The 18-month, USD 1.5 million project will run from January 2021 to June 2022 and will cover 10 countries and territories, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The initiative has three pillars: regional dialogue and policy solutions for the tourism sector; technical support, capacity building and mentoring for MSMEs as well as financial assistance for the economic recovery of MSMEs .
During the launch, Dr. the Hon. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, Grenada’s Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Climate Resilience and the Environment shared her views on the project, “The future of tourism is such an apt topic for us at this time, I believe this intervention is opportune and the focus on youth and women has been very strategically placed. UNDP has reached out in a void in the industry and there is a lot of room to be covered if we are to recover adequately.”
Adding to this sentiment was the Hon. Denise Charles, Dominica’s Minister of Tourism, International Transport & Maritime Initiatives who expressed, “We look forward to working to build the Caribbean tourism product and give MSMEs greater access to market within our region and increasingly interact on digital platforms. I wish to thank UNDP for providing significant and complementary systems which will have far reaching benefits. The future is bright and the opportunities for MSMEs are endless, we hope to see many more of these initiative as we work to create better lives for the people, especially the most vulnerable; youth and women.”
Ugo Blanco, Deputy Resident Representative UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, reaffirmed the organisation’s support to the region, highlighting the role the project could play in uplifting the industry but also in allowing for gender-sensitive plans and policies to empower those most at risk. “Initiatives like the FUT-Tourism Project, give us the opportunity for regional dialogue, to reimagine the future of our countries and rethink development,” Blanco stated adding, “It allows the region not only to rebuild but to build forward better and create resilient industries that are inclusive, adequately support women and girls and consider disadvantaged populations. Through the use of technology, innovation and continuous collaboration with key stakeholder we can build a stronger, more resilient Caribbean in the future.”
This project is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the "Blue Economy for Green Islands" vision. As the Caribbean continues to seek solutions to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP, in partnership with governments and stakeholders, remains dedicated to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable development throughout the region and building resilient communities that can withstand shocks and crises through targeted projects and programmes.
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