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Editorial: A Bahamas For Bahamians

IT’S hard to imagine just now – but picture what life will be like when this current crisis is over.

Suppose all the measures introduced by the government pay off. People follow the rules, stay at home, and the threat of the virus passes. What next?

If we reach a point where The Bahamas is free and clear of the virus – but the rest of the world is still battling with it, how does a country based on tourism begin to function again?

Things are going to have to start moving again. When tourism starts again – and at first it may be a trickle, not a flood – hotels are going to need to step up their operations. Hire staff, get facilities ready. Ferries are going to need to start running again. Restaurants and bars are going to polish the glasses and open the doors. So who are they going to serve?

Well, how about us?

As the country starts to open for business again, why not commit across all those businesses to run at the minimum it takes initially to make these places as cheap as possible for Bahamians to use?

Rather than pushing for profits right away, create an opportunity for a Bahamas-wide staycation market. Let Bahamians rediscover their Bahamas.

Let them get cheap deals on ferries, on accommodation in the Family Islands or resorts on New Providence. Let people who have never seen Grand Bahama get the chance to see it for themselves. The same with Long Island, or Abaco, or Andros, and so on.

Money will be tight for many after the lockdown ends, but for those who do have some money in pocket, the best use of that for the country will be spending it. Money in a pocket will do nothing for the economy once things start moving again, whereas money in a cash register will fund jobs, get businesses going again, and give the country a chance to be ready when the tourists do arrive once more.

It won’t do everything to fix matters – to paraphrase Churchill it’s a little like standing in a bucket and trying to lift ourselves up by the handle – but it can start the process rolling.

Those private schools that were planning trips overseas later in this year? Why not give your students a chance to experience somewhere in their own country this year? See an island they’ve never been to?

People who have been working through all this will have vacation time to use – and less of the year to use it up in, so it may as well get used up seeing the beauty of Exuma, the charm of Harbour Island or any one of the 700 islands and cays.

In doing so, we’ll be paying for the salaries of bartenders and maids, gardeners and butlers, ferry captains and pilots, scuba tutors and dolphin experts, cooks and chefs, serving staff and more – directly helping our Bahamian brothers and sisters by getting them back to work.

So what do you say, Ministry of Tourism? Let’s have a push to make it Bahamas for Bahamians. Let’s encourage everyone when this is done to celebrate our nation – and to tell the world all about it.

Get some of the big movers in tourism onside, the major resorts, to open up at reduced rates. Get the inter-island transport network to do the same. Keep the margins tight so that more can make the most of it, then make your profits when the tourists of the world return.

Let’s stay in our Bahamas – and show the world that The Bahamas is here to stay.

Comments

moncurcool 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I totally agree with the concept of the article. Long overdue. Hopefully the Ministry of Tourism will stop catering to the high net worth tourist and focus on making the Bahamas affordable for the average tourist and thereby the average Bahamian.

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birdiestrachan 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I love the Bahamas. The Family Islands are beautiful .If it is God's will I am ready to go to every family Island that offers a ferry.

Let us go Bahamas. Let us go with Godspeed.

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JackArawak 1 month, 3 weeks ago

and stop exporting conch.....Bahamian conch for The Bahamas and our visitors. Not for Florida restaurants.

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paulhummerman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

A brilliant idea - but first please make sure that here are NO infections (even asymptomatic) anywhere in the Bahamas. This means testing everyone, twice (second test 1 week after the first) - quite a tall order, but do-able.

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sheeprunner12 1 month, 3 weeks ago

As long as Bahamians do not own the hotels ……. the supply chain for the food, drink and desserts served in the hotels or the bedding or recreational assets, tourism will not benefit The Bahamas ……… We export 90% of the revenue earned from every tourism dollar.

That will not change by Bahamians simply going on vacation in these non-Bahamian hotels.

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Islangal1 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I'm going to be the Devil's Advocate here and say this. If after this world Crisis the Tourism Industry, domestic or foreign is still seen at a Major industry in the country then Bahamians would have learned nothing from the Pandemic. Tourism is not only a Fragil industry but also highly saturated one, Sun, Sand & Sea no longer sells. The Bahamas has too long place its dependency on Tourism, 9/11, the increase in violent hurricanes have all proven that this is no longer a viable industry for the country.

The Bahamas needs to become more sustainable and in doing so it must learn to feed itself so that when a crisis hit, the country does not have to worry about when the next shoe is gonna drop. So instead of thinking of ways to jumpstart tourism, more money needs to be encouraged into Agriculture, Manufacturing, e-commerce. As for exporting Conch, that has become the livelihood for many fishermen, what is needed is a season like Lobster and Grouper to protect the industry. Imagine a country calling for the export ban on their meats or a bread basket item like rice? So you see why the point of Conchs for Bahamians a bad idea. I'm a Bahamian living in the UK and can't wait for the summer months when food stores import coconuts from Malaysia and the Philippines.

The Government indeed has its work cut out in for them in finding the best way to move the country forward. Right now the world is in crisis and while other countries will be able to pick up the pieces and move forward, The Bahamas does not have that luxury as it at the mercy of other countries to put food on your table and money in your pockets!

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