Bridgetown, Barbados – “One of the challenges we face in the region is how to change the perception of the Caribbean as being that of a destination solely for vacation tourism”. This was the view from President of the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA), McHale Andrew, of Invest Saint Lucia last week during a study tour to Colombian Investment Promotion Agencies (PROColombia) and Invest in Bogota, where a delegation supported by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in collaboration with CAIPA, visited to seek insight in to the best practices for country branding strategies to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
The Caribbean is well known a top holiday destination that promises sun, sea and sand all year round, however increasingly the need for the Caribbean to be known for more than this is being called for to attract the levels of FDI required to provide economic diversity and growth for our long term sustainability.
PROColombia and Invest in Bogota have been recognised as best practice examples for in-country and city branding, respectively. Twenty (20) investment promotion representatives from fourteen (14) of the region’s investment promotion agencies(IPAs) were part of the 3-day visit to increase their understanding and exposure to how an in-country branding strategy could assist in influencing perceptions and utlimately attracting investment.
“Through this visit, we were able to engage with investment promotion experts who have been integral to the process of changing perceptions of investors about the country of Colombia and have seen significant successes in a short period of time,” noted McHale.
A key suggestion from the mission was the importance of developing integrated campaigns that focus on the unique aspects of the Caribbean. These campaigns would ideally target Caribbean nationals locally to support the instillation of national pride across the region, and cultivate a brand that all Caribbean citizens can utilise in the promotion of their products or services in addition to fostering ongoing regional integration.
This activity was implemented with support from the Inter-American Development Bank as a part of a Regional Public Goods Programme with the Caribbean entitled: Support to FDI in the Caribbean. The study tour was also made possible with the support of the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund Regional Private Sector Development Programme which includes the Bi-National Haiti/Dominican Republic Programme. It supports Caribbean Export’s objective of strengthening Caribbean IPAs in order to increase foreign direct investment in the region and follows on several such initiatives undertaken recently including a CAIPA study Tour to PRONicaragua and JAMPRO in 2014.
Participating IPAs included: Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA), Invest Barbados, the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA), the Belize Trade & Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), Curacao Investment and Export Promotion Agency (CINEX), the Centre for Exports and Investment in the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD), the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-INVEST), the Centre for Facilitation of Investments in Haiti, Invest Saint Lucia (ISL), Jamaica Promotion Corporation (JAMPRO), investSVG (St. Vincent & the Grenadines), the Investment and Development Corporation of Suriname (IDCS), invesTT (Trinidad & Tobago).