NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Bahamians have been challenged to take advantage of the business opportunities that can be derived from the fact that cruise ship passengers make what amounts to 20,000 visits to The Bahamas “every single day.”
“There are many, many opportunities that I am not convinced we are fully exploiting,” Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Dionisio D’Aguilar told Parliamentarians Thursday.
“Reach out to the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) to help develop your idea, pool your resources or apply to the Small Business Development [Centre] for funding. Reach out to your friends and family and well off Bahamians willing to fund start-ups. Just figure out a way to capitalize on the amazing job that the Ministry of Tourism is doing to attract so many visitors to our country and then get on with it.”
Minister D’Aguilar said the interest cruise ship companies are showing in The Bahamas is evidence of their increased confidence in The Bahamas and provides opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs.
“Royal Caribbean’s recently opened ‘A Perfect Day at Coco Cay’ in the Berry Islands; MSC is hoping to launch their private island, Ocean Cay (near Bimini), on November 9, 2019; Virgin Cruises will commence stops to Bimini in April 2020, and of course, there is Disney’s investment in Eleuthera at Lighthouse Pointe, Carnival’s desire to build a new cruise port in Freeport and Royal Caribbean’s partnership with the ITM Group to not only build a new port in Grand Bahama, but to also purchase, upgrade and transform the Grand Lucayan property in Freeport.
“These investments by the cruise companies are evidence of increased confidence in The Bahamas. Our challenge now is to make all these investments work to improve the opportunities for Bahamians. And there are many, many opportunities that I am not convinced we are fully exploiting. We must remember that cruise passengers make 20,000 visits to The Bahamas every single day, 365 days of the year.”
D’Aguilar said the Minnis administration is focused on approving projects with cruise companies that are on islands were Bahamians can work and live with their families “in the same place.”
“Working on remote islands, away from your families for long periods of time is not always attractive to Bahamians, so you will note that this Minnis-led administration has approved transactions with cruise companies on Eleuthera, Bimini and Grand Bahama where we feel their presence will be most impactful to as many Bahamians as possible. That is who we are.”
The Tourism and Aviation Minister said the developments in the cruise industry, complemented by public investments in port and airport infrastructure, will improve international and national transport and distribution channels, safeguard the tremendous tourism assets throughout the Family Island destinations and provide the catalyst for increased local investment in tourism.
“In the two short years that I have been in this position as Minister of Tourism, I have been overwhelmed by the multitude of opportunities in the Tourism sector that are going untapped by Bahamians,” D’Aguilar told Parliamentarians.
“I challenge my fellow Bahamians, especially those that have an interest in, or an affinity for, business, to seriously look at the Tourism sector. Yes, more and more Bahamians are getting involved in the Tourism sector by renting their homes, but there are so many more opportunities that exist in providing experiences that are not being currently exploited.
“If you are interested in finding out or taking advantage of these opportunities, I invite you, my fellow Bahamians, to come into the Tourism Development Corporation to flesh out your idea, gain access to those critical decision-makers that will help grow your business and give you the push to launch your new business.
“I must emphasize that we are not a funding agency, but we will help you prepare your proposal to present to the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) touted by the Minister of Finance as the new agency charged with funding start-ups,” D’Aguilar added.
This article written by Matt Maura – Bahamas Information Services.