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Caribbean Hotel Association

Work starts on regional tourism investment fund

Capital Representatives, a British financial consultancy company, has been contracted by the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) to prepare a white paper on the establishment…

Capital Representatives, a British financial consultancy company, has been contracted by the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) to prepare a white paper on the establishment of a prospectus for a Regional Tourism Investment Fund (RTIF). Funded by a grant from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the British Government, the objective of the RTIF project is to develop a consortium of banks and financial institutions to create a fund dedicated to tourism interests in the Caribbean. The RTIF would allow mainly small businesses to gain access to investments, thus contributing to the development of tourism in the region and putting a larger share in the hands of Caribbean nationals. The outcomes and recommendations of the report will be presented at the upcoming Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) & PROFIT Partnership Meeting, to be held at the Sherbourne Conference Center in Barbados, May 9-11, 2005.

“It is very difficult for small businesses in the Caribbean to attract investment. In most cases, the provision of the non-equity capital for resort and hotel development is done by banks. But banks will typically lend only up to 50-60% of the value of the property and for a short period of time usually no longer than 10 years, which makes it considerably more difficult for the owner/developer,” said Alex Titcombe, Director of the Advocacy and Research Program at CHA.

Through the month of April, CR consultants will meet with financial experts and tourism stakeholders in the Caribbean and outside, including national hotel associations, governments, and hoteliers. The resulting report will outline a matrix of the expected capital needs by sector; make recommendations as to how the RTIF could be established and managed; identify potential partners and investors; and estimate the cost structure.

The financial support of the UK government for this project is the result of CHA’s advocacy program to move tourism further up the political agenda in Europe and the Caribbean. The Caribbean tourism policy workshop hosted in November 2003 by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office offered a first ever opportunity for CHA to make in Europe a significant contribution to the multi-lateral exchange of views on the challenges that the Caribbean tourism industry faces and the search for solutions. In bringing the two-day meeting to closure, its Chairman, the Hon. Minister Rammell, the Minister responsible for Britain’s relations with the Caribbean, undertook to examine a number of concrete proposals with his colleagues within the British Government, including the RTIF.

Meanwhile, the RTIF builds on the PROFIT in the Caribbean Partnership Meeting that will be held in conjunction with CHTIC 2005, to promote partnership and investment opportunities in the tourism industry sector. PROFIT will provide a major business-to-business event for the Caribbean tourism sector with special support for small, medium and large scale businesses to present projects to potential European investors and partners during pre-scheduled business appointments. PROFIT is sponsored by Pro€Invest, a program of the Group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) States and the European Commission.