By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A Bahamian entrepreneur is aiming to take 70,000 passengers per year on day excursions to Eleuthera by launching a passenger ferry service later this year.
Tyrone Sawyer II, director/chief operating officer of Tourism Adventures, told Tribune Business that the venture will create 70 jobs within its first year of operation as well as spin-off opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs.
“We plan to launch in the fall/winter,” he said. “The actual date hasn’t been pinned down as yet but we’re looking at November 15 as the tentative date.
“We’re going to get about 70,000 excursion passengers a year. That will be an awesome boost to Eleuthera. The people there are very excited about it, and it is something that is much needed.”
Tourism Adventures will launch a high-speed, 400-passenger ferry service to facilitate “Day Trip” excursions between Nassau and Eleuthera at a speed of 47 knots per hour. This cuts the travel time to one hour, making the product attractive to cruise passengers as well as hotel-based tourists and locals.
Mr Sawyer said the service was not intended to compete with Bahamas Ferries. “Bahamas Ferries takes almost three hours to get from Nassau to Eleuthera,” he added. “Our focus is the excursion passenger who is staying in Nassau and wants to go to Eleuthera that day, and can still sleep in their hotel room that night. We plan to provide an authentic Out Island settlement experience at a site in North Eleuthera.”
Mr Sawyer said the business has been ten years in the making, describing it as a return home to his roots. “Eleuthera is home. My grandad was from Harbour Island. Really and truly this is an entrepreneurial initiative. We know that it is something that the people really want,” he added.
Mr Sawyer said his father, long-time Ministry of Tourism executive Tyrone Sawyer, who was the founding president of Bahamas Ferries, has provided him with immense knowledge of what is required for the venture.
Bahamas Ferries introduced its 35 knots per hour inter-island ferry service between Nassau, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island and Eleuthera in 1999. Mr Sawyer said its Bo Hengy vessel takes the name of his great grandfather.