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Downtown Nassau Needs ‘Deep Clean’

Downtown Nassau pictured during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Downtown Nassau pictured during the COVID-19 lockdown.

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

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”.

Comments

Cobalt 1 month, 2 weeks ago

So what’s new? Nassau has always been a dump. Outside of Atlantis I don’t know why tourist would even want to visit the Bahamas. It’s overly priced and Bahamians generally offer horrible service. I can think of a number of other places in the Caribbean where tourist should visit rather than the Bahamas. It’s a total shame and an indictment against all Bahamians that foreign investors are the ones who have to initiate tourist attractions for tourist. We don’t even have any Bahamian owed resorts. Even with Disney, Atlantis and Bahamar operating, the Bahamas is still a crap hole. Bunch of nasty black people with no shame or pride in their surroundings. Better in the Bahamas my backside.

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Zidane018 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Lots of racism and self hate in your comment. There are at least 30k+ white Bahamians that live in this country. The richest of them own most of the properties downtown, the area of concern. Just about every successful country in the western hemisphere relies on foreign investment, including the US and Canada. The foreign investment in our tourism industry is why the Bahamas is as rich as it is versus the other independant Caribbean countries. The Bahamas needs foreign investment to do these things because our population is too small to do it on our own consistently even if we raise taxes. Also, the reason tourist come to the Bahamas is because it is close, we speak english(second most spoken language in the world and I have heard Americans say that lol), Bahamians are cool to hang with once they are not serving you lol, and the waters of the Bahamas are unrivaled on this side of the world. That being said downtown is indeed a poor representation of the Bahamas. If tourist love coming to the Bahamas with us operating at half effort so to speak, imagine if we put 100%. People all over the world love coming to the Bahamas despite our faults. It's really only the downtown area, the rest of the country is fine and in most cases better off than the other Caribbean countries I have been to.

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trueBahamian 1 month, 1 week ago

Good reply. It's true we have issues. But, if we talk about cleanliness as a standard, then no one would visit New York or Philadelphia. Toronto and Boston would be among the most visited cities in the world.

I've seen bad attitudes across the globe. I'm not condoning issues we have here, I'm just saying we're not the only ones. Cobalt clearly needs some global exposure. We do need to fix a lot of things, but some of our issues are because we're so small. Downtown is a mess, but it's the wealthy white minority that own downtown real estate who've allowed it to fall into an eyesore for the most part (the section from East and Bay heading east). So, I don't see why the attack on the black population. Ignorance is dangerous!

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Economist 1 month, 2 weeks ago

No, Ms. Jibrulu you need to give the Ministry of Tourism a deep clean and change couse to a better type of visitor.

The Bahamas Governments determination to encourage the cruise ship passenger over the air arrival is the cause of Bay Streets downfall.

The PLP used to boast how they were bringing in more and more tourists to fool the voter that they were doing something for them.

The cruise ship passenger has never spent any where near as much as the air arrival. Government has never brought in enough cruise ship passengers to counter the loss of the good spending air arrival who found that Nassau had lost its charm.

Once a shopping meca for the air arrival with china, cashemer sweaters, linens, fine clothing and fine dining; it has become a T shirt, souviner row of shops with jewelry stores in between.

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trueBahamian 1 month, 1 week ago

Agreed. I didn't understand why money was spent dredging the harbor to bring in mega cruise lines when cruise passengers don't spend much money on land. Added to that some of these cruise lines are low end meaning passengers taking those may not have much disposable income. So, what money are they going to have to spend here. Keep in mind, if they have a few pennies to spend they have splitting it between multiple ports of call.

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C2B 1 month, 1 week ago

What you have in essence trueBahamian, are floating all-inclusive resorts that have been heavily reinvested in, and come here to complement their service. I suspect the view from the top of the ships is superior to the one on land and can be enjoyed without spending additional money. I used to think they were idiots in conga lines at Senor Frogs having tequila poured in their mouths, but this is a formula that works. I heard that bar sells $1MM in a good month. A 3 hour party on a Tuesday afternoon. I don't understand it but if it brings in dollars, show me the back of the line.

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SP 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Thank you, PLP and FNM for ruining, and driving our tourism product into the ground!

Bay Street doesn't all of a sudden need deep cleaning and a coat of paint. For decades we have been begging and pleading with successive governments to pay more attention to our tourism product!

We repeatedly pleaded, and warned them not to sell cruise companies private Islands lock stock and barrel without Bahamian partnerships, begged them to create initiatives to encourage Bahamian nightlife and entertainment, did all we could to get involved with excursion tours, asked 100's of times the jet ski, taxi, and other front line vendors are improved, etc, etc, etc, they never paid any attention to us.

Given our proximity, culture, and climate, the Bahamas should easily be the number one foreign competing resort destination to Florida!

When we compare the growth and development of Key West, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Jamaica, Cayman, Dominican Republic, Paradise Island, Bermuda, Mexico, Barbados, and even Haiti to Nassau and the Bahamas over the last 50 years, we would have to conclude successive Bahamian governments deliberately destroyed our tourism product!

The economic effects of Covid-19 simply accelerated Nassau to where we were always headed anyway. Only a complete imbecile couldn't figure out the cruise industry was developing their own island getaways because the Bahamas tourism product had not only totally stagnated, but regressed. There was more to do here 50 years ago than there is to do here now!

Regional competitors copied what we had 5 decades ago, improved upon it, and continued developing new world-class tourism products, while our politicians refused to allow Bahamians into the tourism market, chased investors to competing countries, strutted around, heads thrown back and chest stuck out in the House Of Assembly talking bullshit and cutting deals for friends family and lovers!

Bahamian taxpayers paid these people to "lead". They failed. Someone should be held accountable.

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BONEFISH 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The state of downtown Nassau is simply symbolic of this country.A well known supporter of the FNM said a lot of things in this country just don't work.

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C2B 1 month, 1 week ago

One of the things that I notice in The Bahamas, is that the cost of electricity drags the entire economy down. I ask myself, why are all the establishments so dingy, dark, and unwelcoming? People think illumination = civilization. Tourists are already afraid of strangers/locals and now they are expected to go out at night with no visible security presence? Americans fear their own Cities; what do you think they think of ours? And what is wrong with all-inclusive resorts? They are the choice of most Caribbean tourists because they are able to budget and not think about what and where to eat and drink every day! They are on vacation, not exploration. I know this hurts, but the tourists for the most part are not interested in the culture of the places they visit for beach fun, and this includes The Bahamas. Can we find a way to be happy with the money all-inclusives bring in and not get in some "share the wealth" argument that only serves to make other Countries the preferred choice of middle class North Americans? Time to stop stepping on our own d--ks!

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trueBahamian 1 month, 1 week ago

I intend no disrespect to Mrs. Jibrilu, but I think she missed some major points on tourism. When you're selling tourism, always keep in mind it's a product both content and packaging. Painting and cleaning up downtown helps with packaging but what about content. We have historical sites that are not being maintained. We allowed the Hilton to knock down the remnants of a fort to make room for a parking lot. The "Water Tower" which gave visitors a panoramic view of the island lies in a state of disrepair. If you go to any major city in the world you have a place where you can overlook the city. We no longer have it. What are we selling that's Bahamian? Do we have local music entertainment at nights? Tourists are always complaining that there's not much nightlife. We don't provide Bahamian theater with much frequency in a centralized location. We don't have decent restaurants serving local cuisine. These are among a few things lacking from our tourism product. It's quite sad that no one in the Ministry of Tourism seems to have figured any of this out.

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Proguing 1 month, 1 week ago

And to think we had all of that, but let it die.

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