By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net ABACO'S tourism sector should benefit immensely from investments in its airport and medical facilities, one local businessman believes, adding that the island's second home industry has kept its economy afloat during tough economic times. Stephen Albury, proprietor of CarQuest in Dundas Town, told Tribune Business the $27 million Marsh Harbour airport terminal, expected to be completed in 2012, and the proposed construction of a new hospital, would increase the attractiveness of the island's offering. Mr Albury, who recently revealed that he plans to invest between $1-$1.2 million in expanding his auto parts business to Freeport, told Tribune Business: "We've got an airport that will be on stream sometime in August. We have our power plant that's on stream now. We have the hospital that I figure will start imminently, there's this investment in North Abaco for a bridge and port with the Chinese." China's state-owned Export-Import Bank has agreed to finance a new port and a bridge in the Abacos. The bank will provide a $41 million loan for the bridge and port, and Mr Albury said: "It doesn't take an Atlantis-size resort in Abaco to make Abaco successful. It takes about 50 to 60 new home owners every year. "The cost of getting here compared to Nassau is still expensive, and people still come, so imagine when that air link is opened up and the ease of travel becomes easier. We are going to see a dramatic increase. A lot of people that invest in places around the world worry about two things; access and access to medical care, and these are two things that have finally been addressed. One is in the process and the other is getting ready to start." Mr Albury said Abaco had done better than most islands in terms of weathering the tough economy, due to its second home industry. "We're probably a little more insulated because of the amount of second home owners we see come here. It's a higher density of a higher quality. Our industry up here is second home owners," he added. "That's what's kept us going through down times in 2008. Even thought things were slower here, we weren't as bad as other places in the Bahamas. It's kept things above water, where in other places their economies have shrunk. That's not to say it hasn't shrunk here, but it didn't take that hard drop that other islands did."


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