EDITOR, The Tribune.
Mankind has long pondered, studied, and questioned our purpose in life that exists upon pendulum swings between balance and domination. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly disrupted our entire world order. Have we emerged from this dangerous scourge any wiser than before, since it appears that we will be entering another questionable era of Artificial Intelligence, or AI next? Are we content to accept that such are the rapid advances of modern life, rather than question and reflect?
Similarly, if we scan the historical timelines of our own fair isles from their occupation by the gentle Lucayans of the Old World whom Columbus encountered upon our shores in 1492, to the emergence of a New World order of domination when subsequent European countries attempted to lay claim, leading onward to piracy, slavery, British colonialism, and our eventual Independence in 1973, what valuable life lessons have we learned about balance and domination?
Can those of us who are old enough remember how the PLP used the music and opening words of the theme song from the movie, Exodus: “This land is mine, God gave this land to me” as a campaign strategy? As we walk the road to our 50th anniversary of Independence, are we doing so with our heads held high to the rising sun, moving forward, upward, and onwards together?
I have my doubts, as I remember specifically in the latter part of the 20th century when our tourism strategy switched its visitor focus from one of quality to one of quantity. Subsequent Ministers of Tourism started to sing the country’s praises based on the numbers of annual tourist arrivals which were increasing exponentially due to the popularity of sea cruises over air arrivals.
Even though we are aware of the research showing reduced tourist spending from sea passengers as opposed to air arrivals, increased cruise ship visits continued and they now dominate our country’s number one industry. This has led us to where we are today as we prepare for the opening of the new Nassau Cruise Port this week that is able to berth the largest Oasis-sized ships capable of transporting well over 7,000 guests and 2,000 crew members per ship.
These floating resorts are capable of dumping an additional 10% of our New Providence population daily on to our small 21 x 7 mile island, which is already saturated with its own residents. This also happens on many of our Family Islands, some of which the cruise companies already own!
Is it not obvious then, why the owners of these behemoths must find the closest bodies of beautiful waters on which to sail, transport their passengers, and significantly increase their bottom line? The Bahamas fits these requirements beautifully, but are our leaders negotiating and leveraging the tremendous advantages of this land of ours for our benefit?
The dangers of mass tourism to our country, people, environment, natural resources, land, infrastructure, capacity, etc. are indeed very real and immediate, and are hanging in the balance. In this our 50th year of Independence, we, the people, must insist that our leaders are deliberate in recognizing and opposing any and all such forms of domination!
March 24, 2023