NASSAU, Bahamas – The Bahamas government says the country is on course to experience a rapid rebound in tourist arrivals to pre-coronavirus (COVD-19) pandemic levels, and that the Caribbean country would “soon recover our position as a premier destination for business and leisure travelers”.
Addressing the 10th anniversary edition of the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit (CHICOS), Davis said that the climate for investment and tourism continues to improve every day.
“As many of you are well aware, fortunately, here in The Bahamas we have over time, and very deliberately, developed our tourism product, chiefly through a number of strategic partnerships,” Prime Minister Davis said, noting that billions of dollars had been invested and that the country’s diverse offering catered to a range of visitors and tastes.
Some of the hotel complexes will already be familiar to you. This Baha Mar resort, which is our newest luxury resort destination, now offers three hotels that are marketed as ‘the richly refined Rosewood, the playfully hip SLS, (and) the stylish and modern Grand Hyatt’.
“Your stay here gives you first-hand access to its wide array of luxury amenities and exciting experiences; and plans are afoot to continue expansion in anticipation of the rebound of our economy.
“One of our other flagship properties, Atlantis Paradise Island, offers products and services for family, business, sports and entertainment events, all of which have a meaningful connection with both our world-famous beaches and seas, as well as with our rich Bahamian culture,” he added.
Prime Minister Davis said that the resorts’ new, immersive programs connect guests to the history, art, people, food and festivities of The Bahamas and that in many ways those two mega-properties complemented each other.
“Less well-known to you might be some of the smaller properties in New Providence — such as Albany, the Island House, the Marriott, The One & Only Ocean Club, The Pointe, Sandals, and The Warwick.
“Across our archipelago, the Family Island experiences take you closer to traditional island life, with each island boasting its unique characteristics and peoples.”
Prime Minister Davis said that his newly elected administration is encouraging the investor community to pursue further developments and economic growth in the Family Islands, with high-end boutique resorts, bed and breakfast establishments, fishing lodges and exclusive villas that will cater to those visitors seeking a more “island” way of life.
“Our plan for each island will focus on the island’s niche in the tourism market and promote its unique opportunities. We will amend the ‘Hotel Encouragement Act’, and, in the spirit of partnership, offer stronger incentives for international investors to partner with Bahamian-owned and joint-venture boutique hotels.”
“In conjunction with the ‘Residency by Investment’ program, we are encouraging joint ventures with Bahamians on projects for sustained economic development. Through ‘BahamasInvest’, we will create the framework to expedite projects under this initiative,” he added.
Prime Minister Davis told the conference that to facilitate visitors’ arrival and departure, the government had also invested in the primary gateway of the Lynden Pindling International Airport, which had become the most modern in the Caribbean.
“We are now considering projects that will upgrade the airport infrastructure throughout our islands so as to enhance the visitor experience and encourage direct international airlift,” he said, adding that the Nassau Cruise Port is currently under construction and scheduled for completion by Summer 2022.
“The project is transforming the Prince George Wharf into a modern, world-class destination and one of the great waterfronts of the world.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that, before COVID-19 pandemic, the Port of Nassau attracted 3.7 million passengers annually and with the opening of the new Cruise Port, the government expects that figure to be surpassed.
Davis said that, over the past summer, several cruise lines led the return of cruising to the country by introducing “home-porting” from New Providence and Bimini.
“This has heralded the return of the many cruise lines which originate in the United States, including Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Disney, MSC, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Virgin. This demonstrates not just confidence in the fact that the pandemic is increasingly under control, but the return of confidence in The Bahamas as a premier cruise destination.”
Prime Minister Davis said that his government was committed to doing what was necessary to ensure The Bahamas’ survival and that it is refocusing development around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) outlined in the Paris Agreement to which The Bahamas was a signatory.
“We invite you to partner with us in this. Together we can make a difference. Together we can make things better.”
He said that his government was committed to taking all necessary steps to improve the ease of doing business, and to ensure that investment projects were no longer unnecessarily delayed by red tape.
“These enhancements will support a superior tourist model that harnesses our capacity for the development of culture, heritage, sports, religion, ecotourism, and medical tourism,” he said, noting that his administration is determined to deliver on its promises and its mandate.
“Our country has a skilled professional workforce. The Bahamas has a sound legal framework, modern infrastructure, and a wide range of incentive policies, all of which make investing in The Bahamas the wise choice for investors,” Prime Minister Davis told the conference.