Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Karen Prevost, is calling on the hotel sector to take advantage of a loan facility at the AID Bank which was created for the tourism sector.
The $15-million facility from the proceeds of the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Program was available for on-lending to the hotel sector and had an interest rate of 3 percent and a grace period of one year.
However, after Hurricane Maria, the interest rate was reduced to 2 percent.
After the hurricane, hoteliers and other key stakeholders in the tourism industry have expressed frustration with insurance companies over delayed payments.
The lag, the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) said, “is preventing many hotels from moving forward with reconstruction and restoration.”
Prevost said hoteliers should take advantage of the loan facility.
“We are working with the DHTA, we are very aware of the challenges and the issues that they face so we are advocating as well on their behalf,” Prevost said.
She said the Government has reviewed the facility available at the AID Bank with better terms and conditions post-Hurricane Maria.
“We have seen a decline in the interest rate from 3 percent to 2 percent, an increase in the repayment period from 10 years to 15 years and also a grace period of 1 year and I should add integration of climate resiliency criteria in this project financing,” she stated.
She said under the revised terms, the private sector, hotels, tourism service providers can also benefit from the facility to integrate renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in their rebuilding process.
Prevost went on to say that these are some of the ways government is assisting in terms of financing, “and the government is also looking at other areas of support to the sector in terms of rebuilding.”
Meanwhile, Tourism Director Colin Piper said if there is a delay in payment from insurance companies, it is a setback for the tourism sector and it is something that should be addressed.
“The other thing that we can speak to is, we also need to adapt or come up with another formula, another mechanism, that will allow us maybe to go to the bank or take a short-term out while the insurance settlement is being taken care of, and what the department is trying to do is put such a facility together in terms of the AID Bank,” he stated. “So the hope is that those processes can be such that it does inconvenience or it does not unduly delay, but I dare say we have a little work to do in that regard.”
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