By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The private sector remains optimistic about Grand Bahama’s future, its Chamber of Commerce president said yesterday, although the island may need to “widen” its economic model beyond the industrial and tourism sectors.
Mick Holding told Tribune Business while at the Grand Bahama Business Outlook conference that while the industrial sector had been less affected by developments in the Bahamian economy, the island’s tourism sector is “in the doldrums”.
“Our economy has two major sectors; the industrial and tourism sectors,” he said. “The industrial sectors markets are generally global markets, and they are less affected by what’s going on in the local economy and continue to generally grow and improve our economy.
“It’s sustaining jobs while our tourism sector seems to continue to suffer knock after knock. The tourism industry is in the doldrums. We need something to revitalise it. We may need to look at the product that we offer here. We have got sun, sand and sea, but so do a lot of other destinations.”
Mr Holding added: “We have our proximity to the United States, and I think that is a major plus, but we may need to look at new tourist ideas and attractions. I know of one or two businesses persons who have a few ideas on a new product. We have an industrial sector and tourism sector, but what other sectors can we attract here? The more sectors that we have, the more resilient we can become.”
Mr Holding said the agricultural sector could be worth exploring. “I think we need to break away from the two-sector model and look for something else. I’m not saying that agriculture is the one, but it is an idea. We may need to look at widening that sector model,”he added
Mr Holdom said the Chamber of Commerce was currently a survey among its membership. “We are going out and meeting every single one of our members,” he said.
“We are asking them lots of questions, and one of them is: ‘How optimistic do you feel about the future for Grand Bahama?’ Surprisingly, in some ways there is a good deal of optimism out there. There is a vibrance, not everywhere but throughout the business community, and we need to harness that optimism and make things work. We have all been talking, but talking isn’t enough. Action is what is required and we have to do something.”