The Opportunity, Awareness & Training Seminar, which will be held on February 9, will afford participants the opportunity to learn how to secure grants to expand their businesses.
“The enterprising center is looking forward to doing its part to facilitate the growth, sustainability and creation of new business as it relates to the tourism and tour businesses on the island.
“We will be working closely with a regional body known as the Caribbean Export whose prime responsibility is to facilitate, promote and enhance trade and development among the CARIFORUM states of which The Bahamas is a part,” Charles Pratt, commercial manager at the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) said.
People with businesses in the tourism sector could receive grants of up to £30,000 – an estimated $45,000 in U.S. currency.
He noted that there is a process for securing the grants and at the seminar attendees would be helped along with the process to ensure that their applications for the grants are successful.
“We encourage you to come to the seminar on February 9 and experience what can be opportunities for your business to grow.
“We will be there along with you to show you how possibilities exist when you access grant funds,” Pratt said.
Pratt explained that the grants through Caribbean Export only supports 70 percent of a project, so business owners would have to come up with the additional 30 percent.
“I may also add that we have covered that also because we have one of our primary banks whose core re- sponsibility is providing fund- ing to small and medium sized enterprises.
“They are working along with the regional body to ensure that technically the person or the applicant has funding available from both sides,” he said.
Pratt said The Bahamas Development Bank, Caribbean Export and Grand Bahama Port Authority have a memorandum of understanding sign- ed between the three entities.
He explained that to be eligible for the grant funding, business owners must meet certain eligibility requirements, one of which is having your establishment opened for at least two years.
He said applicants have to provide their financial records to show that their companies are viable.
Pratt explained that there was a workshop held in September of 2011, where participants were told how they could access grants and several applications were made to Caribbean Export.
He said in the next few weeks, the applicants should learn how successful they were.
Another reason for the seminar is to help persons working in the tourism sector to improve their product.
Renamae Symonette, manager of product development at the Ministry of Tourism said the seminar would provide an opportunity to assess Grand Bahama’s tourism product, adding that stakeholders would ultimately have to increase the offerings on the island.
Since Grand Bahama is presently ranked low as a cruise port of call because of the perception that there is nothing to do, Symonette said interested people should attend to contribute to discussions to help improve the island as a destination.
“We will continue to work to improve Grand Bahama island’s rating as a participating cruise passenger port of call,” Symonette said.
She noted that there is a lot to do on the island and the Ministry is now encouraging line staff at business establishments to talk to visitors and let them know what the island has to offer in terms of entertainment.
Symonette said the Ministry of tourism is also working to improve entertainment on the island having recently formed a committee to deal with that aspect of tourism.
She said entertainers should also participate in the seminar so they too could learn about how they can cater to different tourist demographics.
Persons interested in attending the seminar can call the GBPA 350-9018 or 350 -9087 to register or go online at gbpaseminars.com.
By Cleopatra Murphy
Freeport News Reporter