By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
An Abaco-based boutique resort owner yesterday said Family Island infrastructure costs that were more than five-fold greater than New Providence’s were “off the chart”, and really hurt economic development.
Dr Keenan Larry Carroll, the Sandpiper Inn’s proprietor, illustrated the high infrastructure costs inhibiting Family Island development by comparing the $800 cable TV “hook up” price in Abaco with the $150 charged in Nassau.
Speaking at a press conference to preview next week’s Abaco Business Outlook conference, at which he will address whether the Family Islands offer opportunity or an “empty promise”, Dr Carroll said: “Truly, it’s a toss up.
“We say ‘Going back to the island’, as Ronnie Butler used to say, telling his mum: ‘Don’t cry’. Sometimes you have to cry.”
Dr Carroll said he moved to the Family Islands “many years ago” as a way to escape Nassau’s many issues, such as “noise, sirens and shootings”.
Emphasising that he believed in the south Abaco community of Schooner Bay, where the seven-room Sandpiper Inn is located, he added that his retirement dream had been to own a home and small resort in the Family Islands. And this had also been encouraged by his children.
Arguing that more Bahamians should be encouraged to invest in the Family Islands, Dr Carroll said: “It adds an element of growth to Out Island economies, brings back some degree of Bahamian culture that should exist on the Out Islands and, if we can get them there, people will get a piece of the economic pie and sustain that Bahamian culture.”
He added that prior to Schooner Bay’s arrival, south Abaco was “pretty much in economic stagnation” with communities back to “the old Out Island reliance” on fishing and growing their own crops.
The community in which the Sandpiper Inn was located had driven “a resurgence of economic activity”, with the resort sourcing products such as pastries and fish locally.
But, while there was “great promise” in the Family Islands, Dr Carroll said the costs and “lack of infrastructure” in many places, coupled with frequent power outages, hurt their development potential.
Yet he argued that Bahamian investment and business development in the Family Islands was essential to ease overcrowding in New Providence and drive economic growth.
Dr Carroll said hotels in Nassau were “not uniquely Bahamian”, and that a tourist suddenly transplanted to this nation would not know they were in the Bahamas if they came to New Providence.