Royal Caribbean Group has announced it will gift the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre $250,000 to support a financing program for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the tourism sector.

The Access Accelerator’s Executive Director Davinia Bain said yesterday during a webinar to apprise businesses of opportunities available through Royal Caribbean’s home porting initiative, that the $250,000 will be dispersed as loans, so that, that tranche of money continues to grow and support more businesses.

Bain said the interest rate on those loans will be extremely low.

According to an Access Accelerator statement on the disbursement, the funds will be provided to businesses in Grand Bahama, the Berry Islands and New Providence.

“This partnership has the potential to be the largest linkage between Bahamian MSMEs and the global market,” said Bain.

“It gives local entrepreneurs direct access to expand their offerings to cater to millions of visitors who vacation in The Bahamas, including those sailing with one of the largest cruise companies in the world.”

Royal Caribbean will begin to home port at Nassau’s cruise port in June, providing myriad opportunities for businesses as cruise visitors become stopover guests to Nassau.

Vice President of Government Relations for Royal Caribbean Group Russell Benford said this new type of tourist for Nassau will likely increase demand for tour excursions, arts, crafts and authentic cultural experiences.

Bain added: “Access to prospective procurement contracts can be a result of this deepened relationship. The opportunities are endless. The Access Accelerator is ready to assist with guaranteed funding to make this a reality. We want to be able to expand the experience by fostering innovation to diversify the tourism product while keeping it authentic. Let’s build on the home port effort.”

The $250,000 will be facilitated and administered by the Access Accelerator.