STILL NUMBER ONE: PM highlights need to stay competitive in tourism as Sandals Royal Bahamian reopens

STILL NUMBER ONE: PM highlights need to stay competitive in tourism as Sandals Royal Bahamian reopens
Sandals Royal Bahamian. (PHOTO: SRI)

Some 900 employees to return to work 

Jamaican PM says investments like Sandals Royal Bahamian will “bear bountiful fruits”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said yesterday that this nation must redouble its efforts to remain competitive in the tourism industry and diversify its economy while allowing for more tourism integration.

Tourism remains and will remain our number one industry for a long time, but we are keen to remove some of the vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic.

– Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis

Davis was speaking at the official reopening of the Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island, which has undergone a $55 million renovation. 

Davis said: “While the importance of the hotel industry is unchanged, the role and value of tourism to our economy is changing. It remains and will remain our number one industry for a long time, but we are keen to remove some of the vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic.

“We need to redouble our efforts to remain competitive. We need to innovate. We need to ensure that our value proposition remains compelling for our visitors, hoteliers, workers and our country.

“We also need to substantially diversify the economy. This is not to say that we just want to do things separate and apart from tourism, but we also want tourism to be more integrated into those more diverse aspects of the economy.”

Referencing the orange economy, Davis said: “We want to encourage the industry to employ more of our Bahamian artists, buy more Bahamian products and have our Bahamian culture sit even more prominently at the heart of the visitor experience.

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis.

“But we cannot do it alone, and I am confident that Sandals [is] well-placed to partner with us in this effort.”

The prime minister noted that more entrepreneurs like Adam Stewart and his father, the late Gordon “Butch” Stewart, are needed.

“We need more entrepreneurs like them — bold, visionary and unashamedly celebrating the unique and multifaceted delights of the jewels of the Caribbean,” said Davis.

“Since their arrival in 1996, the Stewart family’s self-declared ‘love affair’ with The Bahamas lives on. From that [fateful] beginning, this Jamaican-born brand has expanded its one-of-a-kind offering and brought many benefits to The Bahamas.”

Davis noted that following the multimillion-dollar renovation, many well-trained Bahamians will comprise the full complement of 900 employees to return to work.

The relaunch of the 404-room property is timed with Sandals’ ongoing celebration of the company’s 40th anniversary.

Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) speaks with Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis in Nassau, Bahamas, on Thursday, January 27, 2021. (BIS)

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was also present for the ribbon-cutting and grand reopening of the reimagined resort, described Sandals as the quintessential hotel brand in the Caribbean.

“It is a name that comes with an exceptional, world-class experience and has at all times lived up to the promise,” said Holness.

The Jamaican prime minister noted that while there are incredible signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the region has still not fully recovered.

“As difficult as the last two years have been, I am optimistic of a stronger recovery. I believe we are going to recover better and stronger than before the pandemic,” said Holness, noting that now is the time to invest to benefit from this rebound. 

He added that investments such as the Royal Bahamian Resort will bear “bountiful fruits”.

Sandals Resort International Executive Chairman Adam Stewart, whose birthday also coincided with yesterday’s reopening, noted that the resort chain has additional investments slated across the Caribbean this year, including The Bahamas.

Stewart noted that the resort now flies nine flags in the Caribbean and, during the pandemic, acquired five new hotels.