By DANA SMITH
THE nation's number one industry makes for a hot topic this election.
In their respective manifestos, the FNM described tourism as "the engine of the Bahamian economy" while the DNA touched on the need to develop the industry through global marketing. The PLP have yet to release their proposal for a successful five years in government.
Last year, around 5.6 million tourists flocked to Nassau and the various Family Islands for their share of sun, sand, sea, food, drink and culture.
According to a World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report, the tourism industry's total GDP contribution was $3.514 billion or 46.2 per cent of the country's total economic product.
The report also said tourism was directly responsible for 90,500 jobs or 53.8 per cent of total employment.
The FNM says it is important that the tourism industry remains "fresh and inviting" and that the Bahamas maintains its standing as "the premier warm weather destination" in the region.
Going forward, the party said it will promote and support "substantial expansion" of Bahamian-owned tourism facilities in the Family Islands by providing promotion and marketing support, duty waivers, and concessions.
The FNM also said it will "go green" with strategic overseas promotions that target developers of environmentally-friendly hotels and resorts, marinas, golf courses and other amenities.
Concessions also will also offered to existing properties to "encourage the use of green, energy-efficient technologies" in hotels.
A Sports Tourism Act will be enacted to promote the staging of regional and international sporting events, and a Heritage Tourism Initiative will be launched.
The FNM will also facilitate online reservations for all licensed hotels, resorts, restaurants and tour operators throughout the country on Bahamas.com.
If the DNA is elected as the next government, it too will create an "effective global marketing campaign" that will allow for the tourism industry to reach into new markets.
The concise tourism portion of their manifesto says the party will "restructure and better resource" the Tourism Promotion Board to "stay current with trends and innovations in the global industry".
Also promised is the creation of a "viable, year-round festival place" in the capital to "translate the culture" of the nation for tourists.
Training programmes for Bahamians in tourism professions, with a "focus" on customer service and foreign language learning, also will be facilitated.
The DNA says this will allow trainees to become better skilled at ensuring "a quality experience for visitors whose mother tongues are not English".
Incentives also will be provided to Bahamians to become owners in the industry, the party states, which will develop the country's boutique hotel industry.
Focus also will be given to growing the stay-over tourism market and the diversification of the industry to ensure "as many quality visitors as possible".