NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The 17th Abaco Business Outlook will convene under the theme “Facing Unprecedented Times: Recover. Adapt. Advance.” tomorrow.
The free virtual conference is slated for October 14 from 9:30am to 3pm, and will bring together national, social, and economic leaders to speak to challenges and opportunities relevant to Abaco and surrounding cays.
“This year we are pleased to have our keynote address by the Honourable Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. As this will be one of Prime Minister Davis’ first private sector engagements since assuming office, I am sure that the people of Abaco will tune in with the expectation to hear the Government’s plans for their island and neighbouring cays,” said Joan Albury, owner of the eight-island Bahamas Business Outlook series.
“Because of the ongoing challenges introduced by the devastation of Hurricane Dorian together with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Abaco is currently one of our most fragile Family Islands. But in the midst of the chaos, our speakers see resilience emerging within Abaco industries and envision opportunities for exponential growth and development,” Albury added.
Conference speakers include: John A. Rolle, Governor, Central Bank of The Bahamas; Ken Hutton, President, Abaco Chamber of Commerce; Donald Rolle, Island Administrator; Joanne Feinstein Gates of Abaco Buzz; Brent Ingraham, Director of Sales & Marketing, Abaco Beach Resort; Geoffrey Jones, Director of Sales & Marketing, Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club and representatives from other local hotels; Tracy Cooper, CEO, Bahamasair Holdings Limited and other representatives from airlines that service Abaco; Cyprian Gibson, Assistant General Manager, Family Island Division, Water and Sewerage Corporation; Algernon Cargill, Director of Aviation; Dominic Petty, Director, Northern Bahamas, Cable Bahamas Limited; Dennis Deveaux, Chief Financial Officer, Doctors Hospital Health System; Nicholas Higgs, Deputy Director, Small Business Development Centre; and Sumayyah Cargill, Unit Head of Strategic Development.
Moderators will be Kerry Fountain, Executive Director, Out Islands Promotion Board, and Molly McIntosh, General Manager, Bluff House Beach Resort & Marina.
McIntosh, who was named Hotelier of the Year at the 2018 Caribbean Boutique Hotel Awards, expects the upcoming Abaco Business Outlook to provide clarity on a variety of issues that impact the people of Abaco and delve into strategies for Abaco to capitalize on existing strengths.
“One of the main strengths that Abaco has is its people,” said McIntosh.
“We are a hardy lot. We went through a storm like we had never seen before, lost houses, businesses, even lives, and still came up fighting. A lot of progress has been made and tourists have come back even with all of the hurricane damage and COVID-19.
“Our proximity to the states and to Florida is a strength. People are anxious to get out and have a vacation and they see Abaco as a safe way to do that. I am told that boat sales in Florida broke all kinds of records. Those people that purchased boats cannot wait to get out and travel in our beautiful waters.
McIntosh continued: “To take advantage of this opportunity is paramount to our success. We need to make the most of the people wanting to come to Abaco; make it easier and give clear communications on what is required, what fees exist, where they can clear and what they need to do. One of the complaints is that it seems that regulations and requirements are different at different ports in The Bahamas. We need to have things standardized.”
While strengthening relationships with boaters is important, McIntosh believes that the island’s “top priority” should be to ensure that residents of Abaco and surrounding cays receive efficient service from utility companies.
She explained: “Top priority, in my opinion, should be getting the electricity and water companies to have a plan that will actually work in the long term to provide reliable and safe potable water and electricity. Otherwise, all of the money being spent by businesses, marinas, resorts, and homeowners is going to be for naught. People will not come to Abaco if they know there is no water or power or if it is so bad as to affect their stay.
“With social media, it doesn’t take very long for the word to get out. People have been forgiving the inefficiency due to the circumstances of what Abaco has been through, but they will expect things to be in order in 2022.
“We also need clear communication from the utility companies on what is happening day-to-day and what will happen to improve the situation. I believe that there should be one person responsible for communications with the public and they should be accountable.”
To register for Abaco Business Outlook, visit tclevents.com.