NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The 6th Annual Long Island Business Outlook (LIBO) will be held on November 12 under the theme, “A New Era: Resilience in the Face of Vulnerability.”
This free virtual event is intended for, but not limited to, residents of Long Island. There will be four sessions with an array of speakers who will discuss tourism, technology, entrepreneurship, and business recovery on Long Island.
Long Island MP and LIBO speaker, Adrian Gibson, said that like other Family Islands, Long Island has faced economic challenges and health concerns.
Long Island is one of the southern islands with low COVID-19 numbers, recording its first case on August 30.
To date, there have been 12 cases and one death.
Gibson said: “So far, people have been observing the protocols. I keep insisting on it and I know the health team keeps doing the same.
“I think Long Islanders understand the impact that this disease can have as it relates to the economy.
“The economy has really slowed almost to a halt; the major hotels are pretty much on pause.
“I was happy to hear that as of November 1, some of the hotels like Cape Santa Maria were about to reopen.”
Matt Brear, General Manager, Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort and Villas and LIBO speaker, said the resort opened on November 1 as it does every year.
However, this year, the resort opened with “a slow start” and in the midst of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.
Brear noted that one of his main concerns is the health and safety of everyone who visits and works at Cape Santa Maria, which resulted in the resort taking appropriate measures.
“We completed and complied with the Clean and Pristine Program. This provides assurance to our guests that we are adhering to The Bahamas’ government-approved guidelines, which reflect the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Brear explained.
According to Cheryl de Goicoechea, Long Island Chamber of Commerce president, the business community on the island has been facing overwhelming challenges because of COVID-19.
“Due to the fact that foreigners and Bahamians couldn’t travel, there was no revenue from our primary industry, Tourism. This has had a domino effect on all aspects of life and has impacted all of the tourism-related businesses on the island and even many of those not serving visitors and tourists,” she said.
De Goicoechea further explained that with the way things are going, “the future looks bleak. We don’t foresee much of an improvement anytime soon. Hotels and other vacation properties on the island have minimal or no future bookings due to the uncertainty and inconsistency of the reopening protocols as well as the costs of travel and added expense of COVID-19 testing.”
The COVID-19 pandemic placed a hold on the tourism industry, not only here in The Bahamas, but also around the world. And this has caused tourism-dependent countries to develop other ways to generate revenue until the tourism industry can completely reopen and gain momentum.
For Lou Carroll, President, Long Island Sponging Company and LIBO speaker, it is important to look at the entrepreneurial and economic potential of sponging in The Bahamas, but specifically in Long Island.
Carroll said: “Sponging is a relief for the other sectors of the fishing industry because it’s not taxing the conch and lobster, which is a plus. Sponging is a job creator not just for Long Island, but for the rest of The Bahamas. Therefore, it should be seen as a plus for the entire Bahamas.”
Another LIBO speaker, Ian Knowles, Chief Councillor for Long Island, mentioned that the threat to Long Island is COVID-19 and its spread. However, the biggest opportunity for the island would be an economic boom.
“Infrastructural work is being done, so that’s putting in new roads and also the work that’s being done to the airport. Another good thing is people wanting to come to the island and folks are moving back,” Knowles added.
Knowles will join Adrian Gibson, Long Island MP and Executive Chairman, Water & Sewerage Corporation; Algernon Cargill, Director of Aviation, Ministry of Tourism and Lou Carroll, President, Long Island Sponging Company for “Time for Change: Priorities for Long Island, Bahamas”. This webinar takes place on November 12 from 10 am to 11:30am.
“Reopening: Adapting to the Changing Business Environment”, from 11: 30 am – 12:30 pm, will feature Ellison “Tommy” Thompson, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Tourism; Dr Sheena Antonio-Collie, Vice President of Medical Affairs, Doctors Hospital Health System and Matt Brear, General Manager, Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas.
“Engaging Technologies”, from 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm, will be presented by Sharmaine Sinclair, Assistant Director of Education, Planning and Research Section, Ministry of Education; Carol Roach, Acting Director, Department of Transformation and Digitization and Carl Monplaisir, General Manager, Southern Bahamas, Cable Bahamas.
LIBO ends with “Empowering a New Age of Entrepreneurs and Accelerating Business Recovery”, from 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm, and you will hear from Davinia Grant, Executive Director, Small Business Development Centre; Dave Smith, Managing Director, Bahamas Development Bank; Michael Cunningham, Bahamas Venture Fund and Kimwood Mott, Project Manager, Digital Currency Implementation, Central Bank