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Uruguay to spur tourism with IDB financing

New program will increase tourism investments in the country´s Uruguay River corridor

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a loan for $5 million to promote tourism in six Uruguayan departments with the aim of boosting foreign exchange earnings, income, and employment.

The Program to Support the Tourism Sector will increase tourism investment in the departments of Soriano, Río Negro, Paysandú, Salto, Artigas, and Rivera. The program will focus on tourist destinations and activities related to the Uruguay River.

Objectives for the next four years are to increase tourism investment by 17 percent, boost foreign exchange earnings in target areas by nearly 23 percent, create new tourism enterprises, generate jobs, and raise incomes of low-income households.

"The program continues the strategy of diversifying tourism supply and demand, which was begun several years ago by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports with IDB support,” said Luis Macagno, IDB team leader. “The strategy seeks to shift concentration from the eastern portion of the country to other regions that offer potential for river-based tourism and related products."

The program will seek to enhance tourism in the Uruguay River Corridor and associated destinations, support entrepreneurship and private investment, and establish an integrated management model for the corridor.Activities include building a network of river-based attractions and visitor centers that will be strategically located for new operators and tourists.

Also included will be technical assistance to adapt the country’s regulatory framework to aquatic-based tourism activities, preparation of technical specifications for tourism concessions related to the new infrastructure, creation of a manual for sustainable investment in innovative products, and development of a strategy to support local businesses, with a focus on low-income households.

The IDB loan for $5 million was extended for a 20- year term with four-year grace period and a variable interest rate based on LIBOR. Local counterpart funding totals $1.25 million.