“With over five million cruise visitors, we have a captive audience to showcase all that is Bahamian to them”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA), along with the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), has facilitated the formation of the new Bahamas Cruise Committee.
The Cruise Committee will work with the cruise lines that make ports of call in The Bahamas to ensure the economic impact from cruise visitors is increased and businesses reserved for Bahamians are indeed under Bahamian ownership.
It consists of high-level representatives from various government departments and agencies, including the Port Department, Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA), MOTA, as well as private sector organizations such as Nassau Cruise Port (NCP), Cruise Island Director, Cruise Concessions Director, Chamber of Commerce, Freeport Harbour Company, Grand Bahama and Bimini representatives, and is chaired jointly by Dr Kenneth Romer of MOTA and Janet Johnson, TDC CEO.
The committee’s mandate is to serve as a partner with cruise lines to improve the numbers of visitors coming off the ships at every port of call as well as to ensure that through shore experiences, there is greater trickle down into the economy, while at the same time monitoring HOA commitments for concessions that are reserved for Bahamians such as tours, watersports and entertainment.
Johnson stated: “There have been many complaints that on the cruise islands, the ownership of the businesses reserved for Bahamians does not adhere to the set policy of at least 60 percent. Our remit is to ensure that Bahamians serving cruise visitors are involved in tours, attractions, watersports equipment and are the majority owners of these businesses.
“We will work alongside the BIA to manage the commitments made by the cruise lines in return for the concessions received by them.”
With the advent of homeporting by several cruise lines, the Cruise Committee will be focused on encouraging more passengers to want to disembark while in port to shop, patronize bars and restaurants and purchase tours and experiences.
As a result, it will encourage and assist entrepreneurs to source locally for souvenirs and encourage the growth of the cottage industry to ensure the availability of Bahamian products and to create the necessary linkages between the domestic product and tourism.
Mike Maura, of Nassau Cruise Port, said: “It is important that we make more authentically Bahamian souvenirs available at the cruise port in Nassau, for instance, and on the cruise islands. Right now, goods are being sourced elsewhere but we will be encouraging small businesses to manufacture locally with local raw materials as much as possible.
“We will also ensure that the exposure to our culture and way of life as a people will have prominence in what is offered to the cruise visitor.”
The Cruise Committee will work with the DEPP also to monitor and enforce the environmental policy with regard to waste dumping in Bahamian waters as well as damage to coral reefs as a result of cruise lines’ activities.
Romer stated: “The enforcement of the existing laws pertaining to business ownership, environmental protection as well as to provide outstanding service to these visitors and ensuring that the quality of the goods and services are of high standards and authentically Bahamian will be the key to achieving the desired economic impact from cruise visitors.
“Other Caribbean countries enjoy far more impact from this sector and with over five million cruise visitors, we have a captive audience to showcase all that is Bahamian to them.”