Tourism industry leakage a serious problem

President of The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Carlton Russell.

The Bahamian economy loses about 85 cents of every tourist dollar, according to President of The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Carlton Russell, who recently urged the government to do more to stop the leakage.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Russell questioned what is being done to keep more of the tourist dollar in-house.

“The leakage is any tourism dollar that comes into the economy and goes back out and, at this point, there is nothing we are doing to retain any more of it,” Russell said.

“It’s a damning indictment of The Bahamas’ failure to develop strong linkages between its hotel industry and smaller Bahamian-owned companies, that could supply the sector with the goods it requires.

Russell recommended that that a national goal be established to reduce the leakage by 20 per cent in the next t10 years

“We need to keep more money in the economy by developing small and medium sized enterprises, festivals and authentic experiences,” Russell said.

“The money is coming in and you have a trickle down economy, and that’s not happening at this point.”

The 20 per cent reduction, Russell explained, can be maximized by strengthening the country’s agricultural sector.

“We do know that there is nothing new in the shoot and we need to develop other industries. In the meantime, we need to focus on supporting farmers  and get products from the farm to table top,” he said.

“A reduction in the leakage means jobs and the quality of living enhanced for many…We need to first learn how to feed ourselves and we need the diversification to increase manufacturing. Only then will we be able to plug the leak.”