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Chipman Warns Of Major Impact As Us Moves To Open Cuban Embassy

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Hubert Chipman

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

THE United States’ recent decision to open an embassy in Cuba will have a “major impact” on the Bahamas from a tourism standpoint, according to St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman, who added that the Bahamas will now have to “do better with our services in order to attract more people into this country”.

Mr Chipman, the Free National Movement’s shadow minister of foreign affairs, said subsequent to the US’ decision, The Bahamas will now have to take a “hard look” at “managing our numbers” and finding ways to improve its current tourism product.

He said the government and citizens alike will now have to treat its number one industry as a “valuable, valuable asset” in order to counteract the potentially negative impact Cuba’s eventual opening to US tourists would have on this country’s tourism product.

On Wednesday, US President Barrack Obama announced that the US and Cuba agreed to open embassies in each other’s capitals and subsequently re-establish diplomatic relations for the first time in 50 years. White House officials said that the US would open its embassy in Cuba “shortly after” July 20.

President Obama this week also urged Congress to lift the decades-old US trade embargo, which would open further economic avenues for Cuba, lift restrictions to travel and further strengthen its relationship with the US. Previously in April, President Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro met in Panama for what American media called a “historic” sit-down meeting – the first between distinct leaders of the two countries in over 50 years.

Speaking with The Tribune yesterday, Mr Chipman said that although Cuba is “25-30 years” behind the Bahamas in terms of physical infrastructure, the Latin American island nation is “very, very rich in culture, and they have a lot to offer.”

Those factors, he said, along with the recent endeavours by the US, would have a “major impact” on the Bahamas’ tourism product.

“We have a very good product,” he said. “Cuba has a lot to offer also. You have a lot of curious people in this world who want to see what Cuba has to offer. There’s a lot of Americans who always dreamt of going to Cuba but was afraid of going to Cuba because they don’t know whether in fact they would’ve been able to return. There’s all kinds of myths about that.

“At the end of the day these things being lifted, free movement of people and stuff like that, don’t be surprised. It has fully come home; it’s here now, so how do we deal with it as a people? The people are now being offered other options in terms of the tourism product and stuff like that, so it’s something that we have to be mindful of.”

Last month, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe told Tribune Business that the government is working with the Cuban government to develop a “multi-destination” travel arrangement with the Bahamas, emphasising that he was not concerned about losing stopover visitors to Cuba.

Mr Wilchcombe, while promising that the Bahamas will “still have its market,” said he was more concerned about issues such as marketing and ensuring a superior tourism product.

Prior to that, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) described Cuba’s eventual opening as the “biggest and most disruptive pebble to be dropped into the Caribbean pool in 50 years.”

The CHTA also warned that Cuba’s proximity to the US will act as an immediate draw for Florida’s impulse traveller market, which currently gravitates to the Bahamas for short-term stopover vacations.

Mr Chipman echoed the same sentiments yesterday, predicting that there will be an “influx of tourism into Cuba just to find out what Cuba is about.”

Stressing the importance of improving the country’s current product however, he added: “Service is the key to all as far as the tourism product is concerned. I think people are going to have to smile more. I think from a presentation point of view, how we present ourselves, how we look at tourism, we’ll have to look at tourism as a valuable, valuable asset to this country and we have to treat (tourists) accordingly.

“We have to do better with our services in order to attract more people into this country. Long gone are the days where we could’ve gotten away with service that you could’ve been better at. So at the end of the day, yes it’s going to have a major impact on us.”

Comments

GrassRoot 5 years, 3 months ago

am not worried, we have done all we possibly could to be prepared for this moment.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 3 months ago

Nothing to worry about, we were told months ago that this was wonderful news for the Bahamas and opened the door for a wonderful multidestination partnership.

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BahamaPundit 5 years, 3 months ago

We had ample time to prepare for this event. Once again, we're caught surprised and unprepared. This isn't about Cuba opening; this is about us!!

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TheMadHatter 5 years, 3 months ago

This is WONDERFUL news for the Bahamas. After our economy gets even worse, and there is no money, no jobs, and the clinics run out of free medicine and doctors, and the schools can't pay the teachers to provide free schooling - maybe then the MIGRANTS will move to Cuba and we will get our country back.

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 3 months ago

Foreign persons are not allowed to buy property in Cuba. Cuba will protect Cuba for the best interest of the Cuban people. There will be no open door policy where outsiders can act as they like and do as they please, As so many do in the Bahamas.

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TheMadHatter 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, then, I guess they'll be fishing on the rocks with us.

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Chucky 5 years, 3 months ago

This quote says it all:

"THE United States’ recent decision to open an embassy in Cuba will have a “major impact” on the Bahamas from a tourism standpoint, according to St Anne’s MP Hubert Chipman, who added that the Bahamas will now have to “do better with our services in order to attract more people into this country”."

Simple proof that the entitled attitude in this country starts at the top and goes all the way to the bottom.

Does this idiot not see that it is this systemic attitude problem (including his) in this nation that will be our downfall. (not that we can fall much lower)

Just imagine where the country might be if " you did a little better with our services" since time began. Why haven't we? Because we're a nation full of entitled, protected , useless people for the most part.

Sooner or later even our own dead ass people will have to compete, or starve. Maybe then they will get off their fat lazy entitled asses and get moving.

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Greentea 5 years, 3 months ago

But we have known this moment was coming so Chipman needs to tell us something we don't know. Our leaders need to stop stating the obvious and think about ways to alleviate any impact this relationship might have on the country. Come up with a creative idea for our future. We have been stuck for sixty years carrying on the same vision Sir Stafford Sands came up with and the majority black governments merely continued. Wake up those brain cells people an lets get creative and ready for change.

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