first_img 127 Views   no discussions BusinessLocalNews Tourism Minister calls for ‘fundamental shift’ in the sector by: Dominica Vibes News – September 8, 2016 Share Tweet Sharecenter_img Minister for Tourism and Urban Renewal, Senator Robert Tonge (file photo)Senator Robert Tonge, the minister with responsibility for Tourism and Urban Renewal, has called for a “fundamental shift” in the tourism sector here.This, as the Minister addressed over fifty tourism stakeholders at the Fort Young Hotel on Thursday 8 September 2016 during a forum organized by the Discover Dominica Authority (DDA).The forum was geared at generating awareness and encouraging hoteliers and restaurateurs to take advantage of the recently established special loan facility at the Agricultural Industrial Development Bank of Dominica (AID Bank).The special loan facility, which is geared at accommodation upgrade or expansion, is available at a three percent interest rate, with a grace period of one year and repayment term of ten years. It is financed through the Citizenship by Investment Program and according to Minister Tonge includes duty free concession on imported material and possibly income tax waivers.He noted that this loan facility is geared at providing higher end properties with a minimum of four stars and above and is in line with the revised tourism master plan.“So the fifteen million loan facility is especially timely for you now to look at how you can improve and enhance your properties thereby improving your experience to the guest/visitor. We believe that your particular client base will continue to patronize your establishments and we want you to be around for a while to service them,” the minister told the attendees. This focus on improving and enhancing the hotels/accommodation is essential as according to DDA’s head of product development, Kathleen Cuffy-Jno Jules, out of the eighty-one accommodation facilities existing here, only twenty-one of them are internationally certified.Moreover, Senator Tonge said tourism plays an important role in the wellbeing of the nation with upwards of three hundred and seventy-three million to the gross domestic product. It also supports over two thousand five hundred jobs directly as well as indirectly.Hence, government, in recognition of the importance of tourism, made the decision to providing the funding for this special loan facility but Minister Tonge believes there is need for changes within the sector. “It’s not just about buying new sheets, buying new cutlery, buying new paintings, buying new beds, putting them in a new room; it has to be more than this,” he advised. “For this to be sustainable, even we as individuals, our mind sets have to change and we have to provide a lot more. If not, just [re] doing the infrastructure will not be sufficient,” Minister Tonge stated.He said accommodation owners and hoteliers must ensure that there is a change in management styles, that staff are engaged and provide “excellent, consistent service” and are properly trained.“If I go to your restaurant today, I expect a lovely smile, I expect everything to be in order, but when I go next week, or if I recommend someone to go there next week, I don’t expect any bad reports from them,” Tonge said.“So there has to be a fundamental shift in what we do, in what we say, to ensure that when we capitalize on this particular facility that it will only take us from strength, to strength to strength,” he noted.The AID Bank’s terms and conditions for this special loan facility are as follows;• 3% interest rate,• Grace period of a maximum of twelve months on the payment of the principle,• Maximum term of ten years inclusive of the grace period for repayment of loan,• All new construction upgrades must be approved by the Physical Planning Division,• Loans are not for refinancing,• Loan request should not exceed ninety percent of loan collateral,• A debt equity of 80:20,• No existing financial obligations unless satisfactory arrangement has been made,• Current architectural engineering plan for the upgrade or the expansion,• Approval by the Invest Dominica Authority for the upgrade or expansion, and• Compliance with the Inland Revenue Division and the Dominica Social Security. Sharing is caring! Sharelast_img

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