The seventh annual Exuma Business Outlook conference will take place this Wednesday, focusing on the theme ‘New Challenges Call for New Paradigms: Identifying a Development Formula for Exuma’. The one-day symposium will be held at Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in George Town.
The keynote speaker will be Obie Wilchcombe, minister of tourism, who is expected to focus on tourism development in the Exumas in the long term and short terms.
Joan Albury, president of TCL Group and organiaer of the multi-island Business Outlook series, said: “The Minister’s presentation is the highlight of Exuma Business Outlook, as tourism is the heart of the economy of this sub-group of our archipelago, and certainly the largest employer of Exumians. Given the current challenges, especially in the hotel sector, Mr Wilchcombe’s input is eagerly awaited.”
Mrs Albury said Pedro Rolle, president of the Exuma Chamber of Commerce and vice-president/manager of SeaSide Real Estate, will open the forum with the Exuma update and vision.
Stuart Bowe, Bahamas Hotel Association president, is also expected to attract considerable interest.
“The greatest of the challenges to Exuma tourism, which is the backbone of the island’s economy, are easily discerned and have certainly been researched by the Ministry of Tourism,” Mrs Albury said.
“Information from the Ministry’s Department of Research and Statistics shows a number of elements that are essential for a turnaround in Exuma. Among the most important are access to affordable and significant airlift, reduction of operating costs in the hotel sector, especially as regards energy, restoration of the small, isolated island experience and hospitality for which the Exumas became known and highly regarded internationally.”
Senior director for research and statistics at the Ministry of Tourism, Gary Young, has expressed similar sentiments.
“Exuma does not prosper unless it develops a workforce in the hotels that know and live, and exemplify, the historic Exuma experience and can pass it on to the visitors. Exumians and investors get together, break down the barriers and figure out ways to do all the above, making sacrifices were necessary,” Mr Young said.
Others scheduled to present at Exuma Business Outlook are Olivia Saunders, leader of the College of the Bahamas transition to university team; Geoff Houston, BTC chief executive; Manuel Messina, representative of Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in the Bahamas; and I. Chester Cooper, president, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and BAF Financial & Insurance (Bahamas), who will present on ‘A Blueprint for Family Island Development’.
Algernon Cargill, director, National Insurance Board will present his annual update on the provisions and benefits of NIB, with particular reference to Exuma.
One of the highlights of the Outlook will be a panel of Exuma business owners, representing a range of enterprises important to their island’s economy. Real estate professional O. Charles Bodie will moderate the afternoon session.