Downtown Nassau pictured during the COVID-19 lockdown.
By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A top tourism official yesterday said Downtown Nassau needs a “deep clean”, as she blasted: “Is this a place I want to show to tourists?”
Joy Jibrulu, the Ministry of Tourism’s director-general, speaking at a TCL Group-organised webinar, said: “I work downtown and I get to see Bay Street every day. This is the capital and that is the main street of the capital.
“I have said it before, and I was surprised at the feedback I got, but I spoke for myself and I will as a Bahamian. Is that the place that I want to take people to and show them? Is this where we are proud of? A lot of work needs to be done, a lot of work, even from a cleanliness standpoint.”
She added: “One of the things the Ministry of Tourism has done over the last few months is, during the lockdowns and curfews, we did a product audit for Nassau, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands on what needed to be done and what needs to be repaired. Simple things, even to signage as we don’t have signage as we should have, and we know the difference that having signage does.”
Acknowledging that downtown Nassau and Bay Street need a “deep clean and a coat of paint” before the cruise ships and tourists return, Mrs Jibrulu said: “The good thing is that the Nassau Cruise Port continues to be developed. Even through this period we can see work taking place.
“The plans that are in place for Nassau Cruise Port, I believe that would create a natural renaissance for the downtown area, and yes, that is 18 months to two years ahead, but I am hoping as we start to see the changes taking place to the Port of Nassau and Prince George Wharf that people will say wow, if I want to remain in this game I will have to pull my socks up, too.”
Turning to the Family Island airports, Mrs Jibrilu said: “Knowing the importance of our Family Islands, and knowing the importance of business on our Family Islands, whether Abaco, North Eleuthera or Exuma, from the Ministry of Tourism point of view it is a priority that we get those airports to the level where they should be.
“Marsh Harbour was the model. It was the one we held up to say this is what Exuma should look like, this is what North Eleuthera should look like for the volume of business. The government has a lot facing it. It has been a one-two punch knockout with Dorian and then with COVID-19, and the demands that come from that. But I think we will continue to press for having these airports brought up to standard. International flights want to return to these islands, and this is critical for us to do that and to ensure the sustainability of tourism for these Family Islands.”
Ms Jibrulu said visiting boats and yachts “have really kept the tourism sector going through this whole period, with all of our ups and our downs and changes in policy. It has not been easy for them; we acknowledge that. So they have seen policies changing constantly”.