Govt ‘can’t in wildest dream’ take tourism upsurge credit


Tribune Business Reporter

THE opposition’s and shadow tourism minister yesterday argued that the government “couldn’t in their wildest dreams” take credit for The Bahamas’ record-setting tourism pace.

Glenys Hanna-Martin, the Englerston MP, in a likely reference to the $4.2bn Baha Mar project said “significant and difficult” policy decisions taken by the Christie administration had laid the foundation for this nation’s “unprecedented” performance in 2018.

She told Tribune Business: “The upsurge was almost immediate from the previous administration. This administration can’t in their wildest dreams believe that it was them; that it was solely their doing.

“We celebrate this development because every Bahamian seeks to benefit from it, but if you want to be historically correct and factually rational, you cannot ignore that there were significant and difficult policy decisions that positioned The Bahamas for this great success.”

Last year was a record-breaking year for cruise ship and stopover arrivals. By the end of 2018, air and sea arrivals totalled more than 6.6m visitors, an increase from the 6.1m recorded in 2017 or 486,176 more visitors. Stopover visitors alone increased by 16.7 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Mrs Hanna Martin pointed to the redevelopment of Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), in which she was directly involved as transport and aviation minister, and the selection of Vantage Airport Group as its manager, as essential to accommodate the increase in air arrivals.

“There was also the increase in hotel room inventory. It’s not rocket science. When you don’t have the rooms people won’t come. They’re not going to sleep on the beach. The development of Baha Mar has been probably the most significant factor in the increase of airlift. It was a great challenge because of the litigation mixed with politics,” said Mrs Hanna Martin.

“Other factors we can’t ignore are the stellar team in the Ministry of Tourism lead by Joy Jibrilu. I think the strategies have been continuous. I don’t think the minister can distinguish his tenure from that of his predecessor. I think that it’s fair to say that we laid the ground work.”