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View From Afar: My Joint Political Initiative Is Key To Reviving Nassau’S Glory Days

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John Issa

By JOHN ISSA

NASSAU’S glory days as a port of call for cruise ships are long gone.

I remember the days when Bay Street was the shopping mecca of the region. The ships did not depart until late into the night. Large numbers of cruise passengers went across to Paradise Island in the evenings to see the show at the Britannia Beach Hotel and gamble in the casino. Shopkeepers had to pay key money just to rent a location on West Bay Street.

There are a number of reasons for the decline in the appeal of Nassau - some within our control and others outside it.

Some of those outside our control include the significant increase in the number of cruise ship ports of call in the region, the large casinos and shopping malls on the ships themselves and the control of the sale of onshore attractions on board which substantially increases the cost to the cruise passenger.

There are however a number of actions within our control that would return Nassau to its glory days and beyond. The benefits would give a massive lift to our people and the economy as a whole.

We need to remember that the dollars spent by cruise passengers go to many segments of society, from the vendor to the taxi driver, to the shop owner, to the property owner, to the banker, to the tax collector, to the electric and telephone utilities ... or should I just say to almost everyone.

Now, what can we do to return to the glory days of Nassau?

Firstly the Government should define a designated area from Junkanoo Beach to the Paradise Island Bridge and running south to Shirley Street. Develop a plan to create the Caribbean Town of people’s dreams. Incentives should be offered to investors and operators who comply with the overall development plan for the designated area and invest in the development area.

At this point, I am going to make the suggestion that will guarantee success. The legislation creating the designated area and incentives should provide for an implementing and oversight Board to be co-chaired by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, each of whom would appoint half of the other members.

A revolutionary idea, maybe, but sure to guarantee speedy success. Why not try it? What have we got to lose?

• John Issa is executive chairman of SuperClubs. He is writing regularly in The Tribune.

Comments

banker 3 years, 11 months ago

John Issa's comments are so old school and outdated that they are actually laughable. What is the Caribbean Town of people's dreams? There isn't one, that I am aware of.

When you ask North Americans what they they think of about Nassau, it is tropical beach holiday. That has been ingrained the North American psyche for over 40 years. When you added gambling and luxury shopping, it was an irresistible lure. Folks want more than that now.

Now the luxury shopping boutiques open up on the cruise ships as soon as they are outside of the 12 mile limit, and the prices are better than what Nassau merchants can offer. Junkanoo Beach is not exactly a picture postcard beach, and it costs money to go to Cabbage Beach, and when you arrive, there is nothing to do but be harassed by jet ski operators.

Atlantis is priced to oblivion for the casual tourist ($6 for a bottle of water) and the casino has the worst odds of winning of domestic casinos in the US.

There is really nothing to offer the savvy tourist these days. There has been a Bahamian food initiative, but authentic Bahamian food is not exactly healthy food, nor is it organic or sustainable. It all is shipped in from Florida.

Many tourists want to buy Cuban cigars because they were not allowed those in the past, but Cigar Aficionado magazine recently profiled Nassau and stated that 95% of Cuban cigars offered for sale are Honduran fakes.

Bahamian music has been diluted and killed by urban/hiphop/rap scene in North America. Guys like Dry Bread and Ronnie Butler would not make it today.

So there is really nothing to offer the tourist that is genuinely Caribbean, except a gun to face demanding your money, your cellphone, your gold and if you are a female, your front. US & Canadian government travel and real estate investment warnings do not help.

Tourism cannot be revived in the Bahamas. End of sentence. The same goes for "financial services". We are so far behind the eight ball, that nothing short of a miracle or a deus ex machina can save us.

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