The Bahamas Hotel Association has embarked upon a new initiative for The Bahamas tourism industry that will focus on Sustainable Tourism Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing (STEMM). With a grant-fund of $1.3 million from the Inter-American Development Bank, and the partnership of the Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities, Monuments & Museums Corporation, and the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, the STEMM project officially commenced on April 1, 2006.
The target beneficiaries are Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in seven pilot island destinations that heretofore have not fully benefited from the mass-tourism approach to marketing that has concentrated on larger properties. The overall objective of the initiative is to improve the competitiveness of these destinations in The Bahamas towards positioning the country as a sustainable tourism destination.
The specific objective of the project is to diversify the present tourism product, organizing and selling new integrated tourism packages focusing on specific market segments, such as heritage, culture and nature, and to identify, implement and market eco-friendly activities in order to protect the natural and cultural environment of The Bahamas.
The STEMM project consists of five main components:
1. Awareness and Networking Conformation – This component will support the establishment of the SME Tourism Network, which will become the tool for promoting the development of sustainable tourism in The Bahamas.
2. Product Development – This component will facilitate the improvement and diversification of the present tourism product supplied by the tourism SMEs in the pilot destinations.
3. Training – In this component local consultants will be trained to provide technical assistance to the SME network members.
4. Matching Grant Fund for the pilot network SME members – This component seeks to enhance the service quality, managerial and environmental capacities of a group of Network members to facilitate their access to the domestic and international tourism markets.
5. Branding and marketing of pilot destinations participating in the project – The aim of this component is to make the network’s tourism packages offered in the pilot destinations known in commercial sales channels and to potential markets, and to generate demand.
The Bahamas Hotel Association, which will manage the STEMM project over the four year period, has put in place a Project Coordination Unit (PUC) to handle the day-to-day operations and reporting to the IDB office in Nassau. The PUC is currently working to organize Awareness events and Workshops for all Stakeholders in the Pilot destinations -Cat Island, Exuma and Cays, Abaco and Cays, Eleuthera including Spanish Wells and Harbour Island, Grand Bahama, Nassau/Paradise Island, San Salvador (heritage), Long Island (heritage) and Bimini (marina) over the next few months; details of these events will be published as they become available.