PI Straw Market relaunch to boost tourism’s authenticity

Janet Miller of J&J Souvenirs poses by her stall in the newly renovated Paradise Island Straw Market after a ceremony to mark the re-opening of the market on April 11, 2024. Photo: Dante Carrer

Janet Miller of J&J Souvenirs poses by her stall in the newly renovated Paradise Island Straw Market after a ceremony to mark the re-opening of the market on April 11, 2024. Photo: Dante Carrer


Tribune Reporter


Senior Atlantis executives say the Paradise Island Straw Market’s relaunch, and creation of the accompanying Food Village, will provide tourists with more authentic experiences.

Vaughn Roberts, Atlantis’ senior vice-president of government affairs and special projects, said the straw market had suffered a “bit of a slowdown” especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. He said its relaunch will help drive more visitor traffic to the market so straw vendors can earn higher profits.

“Basically we’re relaunching this Paradise Island Straw Market,” he added. “The market has been around for over 20 years. It was a contribution that Kerzner Development (Atlantis’ former owners) made to the community but, over the years, it had kind of gotten into a little bit of a slowdown, particularly coming out of the pandemic.

“So this is really kind of a relaunch of a new Paradise Island Straw Market, and really trying to bring more people into the market so the vendors can make more money, but also adding new dimensions of culture and food to the experience.” The relaunch includes a Roots Junkanoo Museum and a Food Village in partnership with Tin Ferl, the pop-up vendor community that first formed on Mackey Street.

Mr Roberts said the building was refurbished in partnership with the Ministry of Works and the Straw Market Authority, and the new features will create an experience that guests and locals will enjoy.

He added: “We worked with the Ministry of Works and the Straw Market Authority to refurbish the building, and then we invited the Tin Ferl pop-up group to bring food trucks to the market. Then we invited also Roots Junkanoo group to create a Junkanoo museum sort of experience in half of the market.

“So, those three things combined, we think, create a more compelling destination for locals and for visitors on Paradise Island.” Mr Roberts said the partnership with Tin Ferl will allow the resort to manage the vendors and ensure they deliver quality products and service - which it hopes will appeal to both its guests and others, including those staying in vacation rentals.

“These kinds of experiences on Paradise Island help to enrich the experience of our guests. But also there are a number of people who live on PI or work on PI, or people who are coming for Airbnbs, and so it’s just a broadening of what we’re offering here on PI and also infusing more culture, more authenticity to the experiences, and that’s important for us,” Mr Roberts added.

“Tin Ferl has been around for a few years, a group of young creatives that really wanted to upskill our vendors and create the right platform for them to grow businesses and sort of like incubate. And so for us, it was easy going with Tin Ferl. We had worked with them over the years in our concert series, so it was natural to kind of bring them into the resort in this way.

“And it helps us in the sense that it allows us to work with one group who can manage a number of vendors coming in, and making sure that there is a certain quality of experience.”

Alicia Robinson, Tin Ferl’s co founder, said the partnership was a “mutual idea” with Atlantis as the two parties have been working together for several years. She said the opportunity allows local vendors to expose their products to a wider audience, and they have enjoyed rapid growth since the pop-up launched one month ago.

“We’ve launched just over a month now, and it’s been pretty steady. We see an influx and a growth rapidly here at the park. So it’s been rather nice,” Ms Robinson said.

“It’s definitely a way for local vendors to showcase their products to a larger audience, such as tourists who go to Atlantis. So, we thought not only would it bring a community for employees of Atlantis, but also it will showcase some of the talents and the products that we have, along with the Straw Market for Atlantis’ guests”

Senator Randy Rolle, the Ministry of Tourism’s global relations consultant, previously said Tin Ferl will use a site formerly occupied be one of the demolished buildings on Bay Street to establish a food pop-up community there as part of the Downtown Nassau revitalisation effort.

Ms Robinson said communication between Tin Ferl and the revitalisation initiative has been “consistent”, but the site identified still needs basic infrastructure before being developed into a park so it will be a while before it opens.

She said: “The communication has definitely been consistent and we are getting a ways into it. Obviously, with the demolishing of the buildings, there’s a lot of infrastructure that has to go into the property itself. So we’re literally just in the building process of, like, having the architects come, having proper water works and doing that planning.

“So then we can move forward with actually making it a park. But it’s going to be a little while until we’re open, I think, just because there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to this space. But we’re well on our way to getting open”

Ms Robinson said the pop-up food trucks will be valuable to guests who want to experience local culture on a budget, while food is one of the easiest ways to showcase local talents and skills.

“The easiest way to showcase what we as Bahamians can do, and some of the products that we have,” she added. “Airbnb became very popular because a lot of people will travel on a budget. I think that when you implement the vendors, it’s kind of a way to have a certain experience and people can enjoy themselves on a budget but with quality products as well.”


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