THE Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association's (BHTA) recent annual general meeting (AGM) focused on issues affecting tourism, including reduced airlift to certain Family Islands as a result of inoperative airport fire/safety equipment.
The meeting heard from numerous presenters, including Fred Lounsberry, the Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board's chief executive, who addressed industry performance and the outlook for destination marketing strategies and airlift development.
Michael Reckley, executive vice-president of the Bahamas Hotel and Restaurant Employers Association, gave a report on recent developments surrounding the amendments to the Employment Act, which were passed in April 2017. He also spoke on the status and forecast for National Health Insurance/Universal Health Care.
Vernice Walkine, the Nassau Airport Development Company's (NAD) president and chief executive, gave a report on the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) and its plans for 2018. Other presenters included an update from Basil Smith, executive director of the Association of Bahamas Marinas (ABM), and Dr Nicola Virgil-Rolle, director of economic development and planning in the Office of the Prime Minister, who gave an update on the Municipal Governance Study Mission.
The keynote address came from K. Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister and minister of finance, who spoke on the state of the economy and its future outlook.
Carlton Russell, the BHTA president, said: "We were pleased to hear the Deputy Prime Minister speak of areas of focus that are closely aligned with those of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association. The need to address connectivity throughout our archipelago in terms of accessibility and airlift, and to address issues with the supply and cost of electricity in the Bahamas.
"These are key areas that we are committed to working with the Government to address. Also, we were pleased to hear Deputy Prime Minister Turnquest speak of the need to better embrace the elements of the Bahamas that make it unique and distinct, and how we need to leverage our culture, customs and artistry to create a sense of space. This is precisely the ethos behind our Tru Tru Bahamian Movement, the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival and, most recently, our efforts to support and propagate local sourcing within our economy to stem the significant outflow of funds outside of the country, and create linkages between our tourism industry and our creative entrepreneurs."