Replace tourism? Not in our lifetime, says former director general

Replace tourism? Not in our lifetime, says former director general
Vernice Walkine, CEO of the Nassau Airport Development (NAD).

Executive blasts Bahamian’s love/hate relationship with industry

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamians have long maintained a “love/hate” relationship with the tourism sector and continue to disrespect it while seeking out alternative industries, a former Tourism Director General has stated.

Vernice Walkine, the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) chief executive and former Tourism director general, argued that the tourism industry has served The Bahamas well, and has proven to be the most ‘resilient’ industry despite being adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walkine was a guest at the Financial Voice forum.

She further argued that Bahamians have not held greater ownership in the sector because it has been deemed to be ‘fickle’, adding the country has yet to fully maximize on the sector’s benefits.

“Bahamians have a love/hate relationship with tourism,” she said.

“It’s that thing we do but we don’t enjoy doing it. We have not maximized on tourism but we are looking for alternatives, as if we don’t want to be in the industry. It’s the largest growth industry in the world.

“Why would we who have a natural advantage not take advantage of those unique features and benefits that we have. Bahamians for a long time have not wanted to own this industry because they considered it to be fickle, temporary, something we are doing while we wait for something else,” said Walkine.

Walkine noted that the country has actively developed the tourism industry for decades.

“Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that we are going to anytime in our lifetime replace tourism,” she continued.

“We need to be sensible about this and think about how we strip tourism down to the lowest common denominator so we can understand how we grow our share of what the tourism industry can produce. Tourism continues to demonstrate that it is the most resilient industry in the world. If you look at the last 50 years, every time there has been a crisis that impacted tourism it has rebounded and flourished.

“This time will be no different. If we don’t yet believe that tourism is here to stay we are never going to want to own it. That is my biggest pet peeve,” said Walkine. 

She added: “I don’t know why over all these years we have continued to disrespect it. There is not going to be something better. All of the traditional industries are going bye-bye. The only way to encourage more ownership for Bahamians in the industry is for Bahamians to begin to respect what this industry has provided for us and can provide for us.”

4 comments

I fully agree with Ms VW. We need to embrace tourism and give excellent service when we do go back to our various jobs because tourism can still be our life line, it all depends on US!

Not sheneq, but to the learned CEO, tourism is not the largest growth industry in the world, sorry oil/ gasoline is, and even countries that don’t have, permit or want tourist must use and have oil/gasoline, it fuels everything that’s needed for the tourism industry, from power plants that light up the hotels to the taxis that move the tourist, sooo, gasoline/oil is it now do we have any of that laying around that we could give to dome foreign investors.

I completely disagree.
History has repeated warned of accepting or listening to myopic perceptions… They always stiffle progress. Galileo, Columbus, Bill Gates Jack Ma, Steve Jobs…and the list goes on: they all rejected conventional wisdom, and moved the world forward. If your vision is limited, acknowledge that, but do not attempt to impose your lack of thereof, as an accurate panacea of wisdom. To paraphrase Henry Ford when he said, never ask horse driver what he would like to see, with regard to transportation. For all he will say is a better horse. He cannot conceptualize anything other than a horse. Thats why I did not ask, and made cars. The problem is not that we cannot find alternatives, its because we continually place those who do not see any…perennially in charge.

Tourism is indeed a great industry which has brought much prosperity to our nation and some people. . it has increased living standards for many Bahamians and presented opportunities otherwise unattainable. The question is do we park here and snuggle in or do we diversify this industry by using other natural resources available. Myles Munroe told us if we don’t develop fishery and agriculture some foreigner gonna come here, give us a billion dollars and take what we have develop it and make us slaves through employment. When we think about tourism, its directly
on the basis of employment. How long are we going to perpetuate this modern day oppression. . The human needs are simple. . . food, clothes and shelter for survival. If we are wise we would focus on every aspect of that survival instead of being manipulated by an industry influenced by leisure and luxury which only provide again the basic need of survival to the masses involved in the industry.

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