TDC Agr-Tourism Grant Proposal REQUEST IICA 2019
There are many benefits to being strategically located next door to the United States. Dependence on imported foodstuff is not one of them. Bahamians have come to rely on processed foods and so developed unhealthy eating habits. From the inception of our Tourism industry some 55 years ago, Americans have controlled the purchasing of the vast majority of imported food and their livelihoods depend on the generous the commissions they derive from keeping this value chain going. The Government benefits from import duties and so the cycle continues.
Times are changing. Consumers are eating an improved diet and demanding fresh produce, cut and delivered from the farm the same day. They also want to see the carbon footprint reduced and so are more amenable to sampling local produce than items trucked across America and transported by plane or boat to The Bahamas.
Visitors are also exercising their social conscious, their demand for fresh produce is helping the local farmer and causing tourism spend in the local communities. The Bahamas is unique in that we have an intermediary in the ecosystem that has found it beneficial to their bottomline to create a network of farmers to produce what the hotels are demanding locally.
Stakeholders are recognizing the potential impact of Tourism as the largest industry in The Bahamas, on our food production. It is noteworthy that Tourism can play a significant role in making the agricultural industry ergo gastronomy one of the key tourism products for the country.
Concretizing the link between agriculture and tourism is the smartest way to solve the country’s overdependence on imported food. If managed well, agritourism can be another type of responsible tourism product for the nation. Hence, the fundamental step is to link agriculture and tourism so that it can provide more incentives to make agriculture even more attractive to more Bahamians.
Understanding the local food source and the culture associated with food is important for the 21st century responsible tourist. Hence, agritourism may be the way forward for The Bahamas.
AgriTourism is but a buzzword in the Bahamian lexicon. There is no national policy or strategy forAgriTourism in The Bahamas. There is no reference to it in Vision 2040 Bahamas. The Tourism Development Corporation has been given the mandate to develop this vertical market and we will work on a strategy to help to gain agreement on what it is, showcase what opportunities it offers and determine how it can become a more viable niche.
AgriTourism is a unique selling proposition that farmers can adapt to. They can learn about authentic, experiential experiences to be offered visitors who want to pay to come stay and volunteer to do farm work on the farm.
The Tourism Development Corporation and the Ministry of Agriculture is proposing to partner with relevant national organizations, such as the Bahamas Farmers Association, BAMSI, Bahamas Food & Safety Authority, the relevant Island Administrators, Bahamas Hotel Tourism Association & Sysco to deliver:
1. A National Strategy & Policy on agritourism
2. Definition of key barriers to growing agritourism, and solutions on how to address these
3. A toolkit for Bahamian farmers to develop their version of AgriTourism
4. Legislation to address and legalize “volunteer farm hands”
5. A central contact point and network of expertise to help Bahamian farmers implement, refine and market their AgriTourism products
6. Creation of a Bahamas Agritourism Council – The Council will devise the strategic plan for AgriTourism in The Bahamas as well as nurture and support the growth of the industry and ergo boost rural economies. The Council will support the promotion of AgriTourism as a national niche
7. Establish a linkages network that ties Agriculture and Tourism
The following proposal is designed to provide a scope for this project, gather support from key national organizations, develop a budget and seek funding for implementation.
The Tourism Development Corporation offers to serve as the lead organization to undertake the project, in collaboration with the relevant bodies that will drive this initiative.