By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamian fly-fishing lodge owners yesterday said an inability to access capital and lack of government support had made it difficult to compete with foreign rivals, with one saying: "We are being left out."
Shawn Leadon, of Andros Outdoor Adventures, told Tribune Business that the recent regulatory reforms had benefited local guides, but offered no protection to Bahamian lodge owners.
"Foreign developers come in, but they have access to foreign capital. We have no form of representation, marketing or assistance from the Government, so we are being beaten with our own stick," said Mr Leadon. "This type of industry should be preserved for Bahamians.
"Foreigners are going to go where their people are. If a Bahamian goes to the US and opened a Bahamian restaurant, most Bahamians would flock there. It is what it is. This fly fishing industry which we created is a part of our culture. We can't have foreign elements dictating what our culture is. These guys are spending their money overseas. They are channelling all of their resources to them. Our policies have opened the door for anyone to come here and take advantage of us."
Several Bahamian bone-fishing lodge owners and guides in the southern Bahamas told Tribune Business earlier this week that they were "catching hell", with some alleging that business is being steered to foreign-owned rivals.
Samuel Mackey, of Tranquility Hill Fishing Lodge, told Tribune Business: "No one seems to have any concern for us. We are suffering tremendously. The local lodges in this country are suffering. They are killing us. We are being left out. I hope that someone can see the plight of the Bahamian lodge owner. We have to be able to survive.
"Right now I have some damage to my place from the storm, and I'm trying to scrap a few dollars to get things fixed. I have a few loyal folks that keep coming back. I think that Bahamian lodges are being neglected for the foreign lodges and left in the cold. We borrow money locally and spend money locally."