EDITOR, The Tribune.
The Hon Minister of Tourism, Dinisio D’Aguliar (FNM-Free Town), and the Minnis Administration have their collective work cut out for them when it comes to the revitilisation of the downtown environment and The Festival Place at Prince George Dock. With the relocation of many traditional businesses and merchants from Bay Street, decades ago, to the inner city and suburbs, that main strip, from East Street up to the Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge, has become an eye sore of no small order. In fact, Bay Street as we used to know it has become a ghost town and an area where Bahamians pimp out themselves and sell illegal drugs, according to the police.
The PLP administration (maladministration) under the benign leadership of the former Minister of Tourism, Obie Hercules Wilchcombe, literally wasted millions of tax payers’ dollars on The Festival Place and tourism’s headquarters on George Street with very little to show for the expenditures. It is my sincere hope that an audit will be done on these two elephants and made public.
When people travel as tourists they are expecting to experience the vibrancy; culture cuisine and, of course, the ambience of the capital city. Bay Street is no longer a draw for visitors or indigenous Bahamians. We locals tend to shun it except for the most urgent of business. The night life, such as it is, is more of a nuisance than an attraction. Once upon a time there were at least 10 night clubs and countless ‘high end’ restaurants and bars. Not so today. The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Works must get a handle on downtown and the surrounding areas. The Festival Place, our premier greeting port for the cruise ships, should be completed as quickly as possible via a private/public sector partnership.
It is a joy to travel into the port of Kingston, Jamaica or even into the Everglades and Miami Beach. The PLP and Obie Wilchombe ‘jacked’ us right up while wasting millions of dollars on what I perceive to be phantom renovations and so-called upgrades. I fully realize that most of the Bay Street property is owned by wealthy white and black Bahamians who may have no financial incentives to develop the same. The Minnis Administration will have to find the political will power to grant substantial incentives to these people and corporate entities so as to encourage them to get on with what sorely needs to be done.
The current board of The Down Town Revitalisation Committee, appointed years ago, seems to be ineffective and a repository for political hacks and cronies because it escapes me to point to a single thing that it has done to bring a clear cut and an affordable plan of action to the table. Who appoints the members thereof and are they paid a stipend? If they are being paid that is, in my view, wasted money. Minnis and his crew have their work cut out for them and the erstwhile Minister of Tourism, must hit the ground running.
To God then, in all things, be the glory.
ORTLAND BODIE, JR
June 14, 2017.