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Local Tech Company Integrating Tours To Its Retail Offering

By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net A NEW Bahamian tech accessory company is integrating tours to its retail offering, its president telling Tribune Business that the venture would provide local artists access to tourist dollars and visitors with an authentic Bahamian experience. Jaime Lewis, president of Islandz, said: "We won a business plan competition from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to develop a social entrepeunership business that seeks to provide artists of the Caribbean with innovative ways to market their work. "We started off selling cell phones skins, we are progressively moving into cell phone cases featuring Bahamian artwork and we just acquired Down Town Art Tours which provides walking guided tours to various galleries in the downtown area. What we are going to be doing is integrating our retailing offering with the tours thus providing art experiences to locals and tourists." With the inaugural tour scheduled for this Saturday, Mr Lewis said some 10 Bahamian artists are onboard with the venture. He noted that he had a $35,000 grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for consulting support in developing his business plan. Mr Lewis said his business provides a new revenue stream for local artists, who have had limited venues through which they can sell, let alone license their works. "It's very scalable maybe not so in terms of the tours because we don't know how the tourism tour product would apply in different jurisdictions," said Mr Lewis. "For instance in Jamaica, Montego Bay is one of the tourist hotspots but that's not to say they have galleries around that can sustain a tourist business in a two hour kind of time space. The intention is to scale it to a Caribbean-wide business, whether that be through organic growth or acquisitions, I guess as opportunities present them selves we will apply the necessary strategy." He added: "Creative industries has been identified by a number of Caribbean countries as being very lucrative. I think the government would be pressed to give some consideration to helping develop that. We think this is a tremendous opportunity because there is such untapped demand for it. "You hear a lot of talk about people wanting to give the tourists with more authentic experiences we think that art and culture is definitely a way we can provide that to the tourists. Its really good fit on both sides. We are providing opportunities to artists who traditionally wouldn't have access to a tourist dollar and we are providing tourists with a really authentic Bahamian experience. We just want to be the middle man in the whole transaction of business."

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