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'There's No Quick Fix' To Redirect Economy

Peter Turnquest

Peter Turnquest

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net 

AMID calls for more diversification of the country’s economy, Finance Minister Peter Turnquest said while officials will continue to have discussions on this, it is still “unrealistic” for the country to move away from its leading tourism industry.

The minister made the comments while speaking to reporters outside Cabinet yesterday.

He was responding to questions about whether the government had planned to focus more on other industries instead of relying so heavily on tourism.

With the country’s tourism industry at a near halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have called for a diversification strategy to reduce The Bahamas’ reliance on foreign visitors.

In response, Mr Turnquest said: “The reality is The Bahamas has been dependent upon tourism and financial services for the most part since before independence.

“That is not going to change overnight and when we talk about what we are going to do, this is not an immediate solution. Yes, we have and we need to continue the conversation about how we diversify this economy and how we move our reliance away from these big box resorts in the main to a more diversified product, because we are not going to get away from tourism.

“It is unrealistic to think we are going to get away from it. God has given us a wonderful environment and beautiful location and we have to take advantage of it but we have to do so responsibly, environmentally as well as sustainably in terms of how we get more people involved in the industry and how we spread the risk of these kinds of pandemics affecting the industry in the way that is has to date.”

The deputy prime minister also said that while officials are doing all they can to quicken the economic recovery pace, there is no “quick solution” that will result in a full economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic right away.

However, the minister said officials are working with several industry stakeholders to increase tourism diversification, aiding in the country’s recovery from COVID-19.

“So, the secret or part of the secret is determining how do we create or cause more development to happen throughout the country so that people have more options, meaning they will come back to The Bahamas more often because they have different options and different experiences but also Bahamians can participate more directly because the cost of getting into the industry is lower, if you only have to build ten rooms or twenty rooms whatever,” he told reporters.

“That’s our challenge, how do we put in place the incentives, how do we put in place the infrastructure and how do we put in place the experiences that will have people come and take advantage and leave more of their dollars here on the islands.

“We’re working with agriculture to see how that can be a part of it. We’re working with the tourism development corporation to see how we can incentivize some creative experiences.”

He added: “Outside of that, we’re also working with the Small Business Development Centre as you know to try and create a culture of entrepreneurship that would’ve hopefully spur developments and activities that we have not taken advantage of whether that is in service industries or the production of goods and services that can be used here locally.

“We believe that that investment is going to pay dividends in the long run. Again, there is no quick solution and anybody that tells you that is selling you a dream. There is no quick solution, but discipline, patience, smarts and vision will get us there.”

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Tourism recommended that hotels throughout the country resume operations on October 15 to help jumpstart the tourism industry.

However, several major resorts have since announced they will not reopen on October 15, with one property saying it won’t reopen until late 2021.

Last week, Mr Turnquest said the Minnis administration is hopeful that the re-opening of smaller hotels will help jumpstart the tourism industry.

Comments

benniesun 2 months, 1 week ago

Basically the entire world is in lockdown and we do not know when or if the lockdown will end. We are not unique and many others are facing similar dire financial conditions - even those with material resources. IMHO the government has to implement multiple plans all at the same time; however, it is vital that one of them assumes that tourism will not return. This "no tourism return" plan will ensure that Bahamians can feed and house themselves under the most dire conditions. That plan will give us benefits should tourists return, as we would be able to feed them and ourselves from locally grown food. Unfortunately, it seems that we will continue to be under dire conditions for years to come, as the government has no other choice but to borrow billions more to survive the next few years.

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Chucky 2 months, 1 week ago

Seems pretty obvious that since none of the foreign or local investors have found much for worthwhile ventures to diversify our economy that the bumbling idiots in government won’t find anything either.

How many huge corporations, how many billions and multi millionaires have have crossed our shores? They don’t seem to think we’re a nation with much for opportunity other than in the tourism industry.

If someone has an idea, fill your boots.

But remember, we are a nation of undereducated lazy people who produce little and demand high wages.

Only a fool would want to utilize Bahamians for any venture that demands smarts, effort or productivity.

A Florida billionaire will choose to have something made in Bangladesh, by people who live in mud huts and can’t speak English and have never worked before, long before they’d choose to try and make something in our deadass country with our deadass people

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JackArawak 2 months, 1 week ago

He wants to get away from reliance on big box resorts. These guys are clowns. The civilian and business community have been suggesting that for decades. And btw the backyard farming initiative is great but also decades too late. Introduce that to the first graders and ensure that every graduate of high school is well versed in every aspect of growing food. Lastly if you clowns took some advice from your employers you’d be much better off

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tribanon 2 months, 1 week ago

Like directionless Minnis, Turnquest is out of his depth, totally overwhelmed, absolutely visionless and completely clueless as to the way forward.

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TalRussell 2 months, 1 week ago

Don't get me going on why he should be made by URCA, have utter a dearest commercial endorsement disclaimer every time he defends his dearest Jeff!
Doesn't KP reminds you of what a PM Jeff Lloyd and his "Lap Talkie Show Host" Comrade Juan McCartney administration would look like. Just couldn't make this stuff up how Juan, so quick draw shoot down the slightest hint criticism of his dearest eduction minister Jeff, Twice for No?

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Chucky 2 months, 1 week ago

Wake up people, the government cannot make this a better country.

If you people want food security then start farming. What are you waiting for.

Do you want the government to make this a socialist country and subsidize your farms?

Do it yourself!

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