By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
DISCUSSIONS on the ‘specifics’ of a multi-destination marketing effort between the Bahamas and Cuba are set for early next month according to Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe.
He told Tribune Business yesterday that the Ministry of Tourism was working to leverage the country’s relationship with Cuba to enhance the Bahamian tourism offering.
Mr Wilchcombe noted that the Mministry was analysing multi-destination travel arrangements with Cuba. The decision by the United States to normalise relations with the island after more than 50 years and significantly ease restrictions on travel and commerce has been viewed by many as a significant threat to the Bahamas’ tourism sector.
Mr Wilchcombe downplayed those concerns and said that the Ministry of Tourism would work with Cuba to enhance the Bahamian offering. Similarly, to mitigate the impact of Cuba’s opening on its tourism sector, the Florida Keys is also said to be assessing a Keys plus Cuba approach.
“Two for the price of one is something that we have been saying,” Mr Wilchcombe said. “We have had wonderful meetings with the Cuban Ambassador. When I was there earlier this year we discussed multi-destination marketing so that we will benefit from our relationship with Cuba. We have sustained a relationship with Cuba all these decades and long held the view that the embargo should have been lifted. They have informed us that they will work closely with us.
“They have allowed us to use their offices in the European market and we’re discussing either having persons land in Cuba come to the Bahamas or landing in the Bahamas and going to Cuba,” he said.
The tourism minister said that a team within the ministry responsible for multi-destination marketing has been appointed, particularly in relation to Cuba and developing the relationship.
“There is a delegation that is coming here in early September to sit and talk specifics and details about where we are going,” he said. “We are not worried about Cuba in the sense that we would lose business but we are going to work with Cuba to enhance our business as well as Cuba enhancing their business. We have a relationship that is predicated on both islands being successful.”