The Bahamian tourism industry yesterday said it was vital to source more product locally if this nation is to slash the 'leakage' of 85 cents from every visitor dollar earned
The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) said this objective is why it continues to be an advocator, supporter and facilitator of 'The Tru Tru Bahamian Movement' initiative.
This seeks to develop Bahamian culture, customs, heritage, cuisine, art, craft, and music throughout the tourism product, and within local communities, through a variety of initiatives.
It aims to create an 'authentically Bahamian sense of space', where the locals and visitors can feel, smell, see and taste the country's unique elements. This is seen as key to differentiating the visitor experience, and developing a brand identity for the Bahamas.
"The global travel market continues to seek indigenous, culturally-relevant experiences in their destination of choice. By creating an environment which is fraught with Bahamian art, music, food, dance and Bahamian-made products, we are providing visitors with an authentic, Tru Tru Bahamian experience," said Carlton Russell, the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association's president.
The second objective of the 'Tru Tru Bahamian' initiative is to encourage 'local sourcing'. Currently, around 85 cents of every dollar spent in the Bahamas by visitors leaves the country.
The BHTA wants to stem this leakage through the creation of linkages between the tourism industry and Bahamian entrepreneurs.
"Local sourcing is vital if we wish to expand and diversify our economy. By supporting Bahamian businesses, we stimulate markets in areas that are currently underdeveloped," said Mr Russell. "The benefits of stemming the outflow of funds, and keeping them in our own economy, is vast.
"The trickle-down effect of local sourcing is an obvious benefit, as this creates job growth and expands entrepreneurial opportunities. We must also think about the long-term consequences; how local sourcing can positively impact crime trends and other social and economic ails. Bahamians are immensely talented, creative and proud of their heritage; we just need to give them the opportunity to succeed doing what they love to do. The rest will follow."
In 2016, after the BHTA hosted the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival, the Ministry of Tourism partnered with it to host the 'Tru Tru Bahamian Marketplace'. The latter gave around 100 Bahamian entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their products to potential purchasers, hotel owners and operators, destination management companies, event executives, restaurant owners and wedding planners.