NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Exuma Chamber of Commerce president Pedro Rolle said yesterday that the cancellation of the National Family Island Regatta for the third year in a row will undoubtedly have a long-term impact on the local economy.
Rolle described the regatta as the single most important economic event for the island during an interview with Eyewitness News.
“It is the most important single event in terms of its implications or its impact on the local economy,” he said.
“It’s a big deal. It’s disappointing. I can’t speak to all of the factors that went into the cancellation, obviously, we have to be mindful of the health considerations during this time but from an economic perspective it is a disappointing thing, an impactful thing, and makes a difference to the economy of Exuma.”
Rolle said: “It has a huge economic impact on Exuma. People often think this is just a one-time economic injection into our economy but the truth is so many people come to Exuma for the regatta and during that time and then invest in real estate and other things. The long-term impact goes beyond that one week of expenditures. These are missed economic opportunities for a lot of people in Exuma.”
Earlier this week, National Family Island Regatta Committee chairman Danny Strachan announced that the National Family Island Regatta would not be held this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Once again, the National Family Island Regatta Committee reviewed available options,” Strachan said.
“Cancellation is in the best interest [for] all of us. The continuing uncertainty of the pandemic requires this.”
He added: “We do not wish to unintentionally encourage any regatta-specific expenditure by sloop owners, sailors, vendors, businesses, community organizations, magazine advertisers, and sponsors.
“Nor do we wish to encourage hotels and other room rental facilities to hold their facilities for regatta-goers.
“We know that it hurts, but we are all reminded that this too shall pass and we will get through this together.”
Strachan expressed stakeholders’ optimism for future “options for staging a meaningful and safe regatta when national and international circumstances will permit us to appropriately gather”.
“Hopefully, we will stage the event next year after we all would have spent yet another year recovering from the pandemic,” he said.