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News Article

October 19, 2012
Nadia Smith named Bahamas Teacher of the Year

Nassau, The Bahamas -- We
believe that teachers are the lamps that light our way along the path
of knowledge, said  Ross Smi

th, Acting Deputy Director of Curriculum in The Ministry
of Education, Science and Technology Oct 13.

Mr. Smith was delivering the speech of Minister of
Education, Science and Technology the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald at the
10th National Teacher of the Year Awards ceremony at the Sheraton Nassau
Beach Resort Hotel, Cable Beach. The theme was Celebrating Outstanding
Educators Rewarding...

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News Article

September 05, 2011
Talent search group arrested

Authorities over the weekend arrested several Americans claiming to be talent scouts for a U.S.-based entertainment development company.
Now, more than 40 Bahamian parents fear they have lost the money they reportedly paid the group.
The Americans -- three men and two women -- were in the custody of the Department of Immigration as investigations continued, according to Chief Immigration Officer Peter Joseph.  They were arrested on Saturday.
Joseph told reporters yesterday that the Americans were arrested because they failed to provide evidence that they have permission to work in the country.
"We received information that there was a talent search taking place at this establishment and we came down to establish whether these persons had the requisite permission from the immigration department to do what they claim to be doing," Joseph said at the Wyndham Nassau Resort where the talent search took place.
"To date we have not received that information nor been provided any documentation relative to their
legal status.  Subsequently, they have been detained and are in custody pending further investigations on whether this is a legitimate exercise."
Joseph added that the director of immigration will determine what charges will be laid against the Americans.
Another officer from The Department of Immigration took information from the group of parents assembled at the resort yesterday.
Police were meanwhile investigating what the group was doing in The Bahamas.
The parents attempted to lodge a complaint at the Cable Beach Police Station yesterday afternoon, however they were reportedly told that they would have to make a report to the Commercial Crime Division of the Central Detective Unit, which was closed on Sunday.
Michelle Pustam, who reportedly paid $1,800 for her teenage daughter to participate in the five-week program, told reporters that parents paid between $500 and $6,500 for their children to be trained.
Pustam and several other parents showed The Guardian receipts of payments they made to the talent company.
Pustam said the arrangement was for her daughter to be trained by professionals from Los Angeles every Saturday and get the opportunity to perform in front of agents from several Disney shows.
She said instead two Bahamian women conducted the training.
Pustam claimed that on Saturday during the final talent show no legitimate talent agents were in attendance and the Bahamian trainers were nowhere to be found.
Pustam said she located one of the Bahamian women later that night, after she tracked down the woman's cell number.  She said she was shocked by what the woman told her.
"She told me that she was escorted off the hotel premises and she told me that she had not been paid," Pustam said.  "I told her to go to the police and complain."
Ophir Neymour, 19, an aspiring actress, nearly broke into tears when she recalled the sacrifices she said she and her parents made in order to come up with the $800 she needed to get into the program.
Neymour said she believed that the agents were offering her an opportunity of a lifetime.
However, she said now it's clear that is not the case.
Olivia Cartwright, whose 18-year-old daughter, Antoinelle Higgs, wants to become a model, said she paid $783.
"She entered the talent search because she is into modeling.  This has always been her passion," Cartwright said.
"I didn't meet with them the first time.  But one lady called me and told me they gave my daughter a $1,450 scholarship because they just loved her and I'd only have to pay $500.
"She wanted me to give her my debit card information over the phone.  But I told her I don't do business like that.  When I went to Central Bank they wouldn't even approve it.
"I should have taken it as a red flag right there not to deal with these people but I said let me bring it to the Bahamian agency.  So they agreed to accept the money."
Cartwright said she spent the additional $283 for her daughter to take professional pictures.
Jeremy Brown, 11, whose parents reportedly paid $6,500 for acting, singing and modeling lessons, said he was excited about the opportunity to work with professionals.
"They were passionate," he said, referring to the scouts.
Dakarai Bodie, 12, whose parents also reportedly paid $6,500, said he wants to become a dancer, model and actor.
"I was really into it," he said.
"I came here because I thought it would be the perfect.  My parents worked day and night.  They wouldn't sleep until they got me into this."

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News Article

August 30, 2011
VIP director extends the 'personal' touch

"Celebrities, premiers, prime ministers, Arab sheiks," Andrea Gray, Director of VIP Services at Atlantis' Royal Towers, rattled off yesterday.
She was describing the types of guests she and her team of 35 attend to - "discriminate guests" accustomed to receiving that "personal touch" and the highest levels of service, she said.
Working with a team of concierges, butlers and food and beverage professionals, Gray said every day is about taking care of the finest of details to ensure a seamless stay, from arrival at the airport to departure, and everything in between.  "The main thing is we are in the business of getting every guest to be a repeat customer for life," she said.
Gray got her start in the hospitality industry through her first love - the food and beverage track.  There, she shone in both the kitchen and the front-of-the-house taking care of restaurant guests.  "I never thought I'd move out of food and beverage - that's where my schooling and certificates are," said Gray.
But her commitment to service stood out since then, leading to an offer to move from food and beverage into VIP services at Atlantis in 2002.  She said she "jumped" on that opportunity, and has been able to build lasting relationships with customers the world over since.  It's perhaps the favorite aspect of her career, according to Gray.  "That's what I love so much," Atlantis' 2009 Leader of the Year awardee said.  "I can see and touch my guests, everyday ... you can take charge and say, let me deal with this."
Anyone who has had to either manage a large staff, or deal with customers daily, will appreciate the challenge they can represent.   Added to that, Gray also works closely with support staff from other areas of the resort to deliver a top-notch experience for her guests.  For her, the true challenge has been understanding the different personalities and how to manage them.  She overcomes the challenge with a positive attitude and some special training.
"For the most part, I don't allow things to really stress me out," she said.  "There are problems everywhere, you just find the best way to work with them."
Gray has gone on to buffet her hospitality management degree with conflict resolution and similar studies at Atlantic College, Nassau.   She completed her hospitality management degree at Trinidad & Tobago's hotel school - the Bahamian explaining that she moved to that twin-island nation when she was six years old.
She spent the early part of her hospitality career there, too, working at resorts in both Trinidad and Tobago.
"I always loved the hospitality industry, although nobody else in my family was in it," Gray said.  "I always knew I wanted to do the hotel and restaurant business.  I had an affinity to always be the outspoken person, so this is a natural fit for me."
Gray moved back to New Providence in 1994, later taking a position at the Breezes, Cable Beach resort.  Three years later she moved to Atlantis in the food and beverage department.
In addition to her approach and training, Gray said she had the support of great mentors.  She listed Atlantis Senior Vice President Ernie Cambridge and Coral and Beach Towers general manager and the president of the Bahamas Hotel Association Stuart Bowe as two of them.
"They really mentored and shaped my career.  They pushed me to see things in me I didn't know I have," she said.
Gray now champions mentorship as well.  Her department has its own informal mentorship program, she explained. It is a project she and one of her former managers launched some six years ago.   Three of the first group of four mentees have moved into management positions, she said.  Of the second group of four, she said one has already crested into management.
Gray shared some advice for prospects considering a guest services career.  "A lot of people get into this for the wrong reason," she said.  "This can't be something you get into for money, or all you'll get out of it will be money."
She said the recognition from satisfied guests booking their return trip was the motivation needed for true success in the industry.

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News Article

September 21, 2012
Remarks by Attorney General at Crisis Center Peace Conference

Nassau, Bahamas -  Enclosed is Remarks by Attorney General at the Crisis Center Peace Conference
at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort, Cable Beach, Nassau on 20th Sept

When I think about
peace, I think of that popular song, "Let there be peace on earth and let it
begin with me, let there be peace on earth the way that it was meant to be, with
God as our father, brothers all are we, let me walk with my brother in perfect
harmony". That is exactly your theme, Peace at Home (let it begin with
me) and let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony (peace in our
community). Sy Miller and Jill Jackson were a husband and wife songwriting team. In
1955 they wrote this song about their dream of peace for the world and how they
believed each one of us could help create it

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News Article

December 05, 2010
Roadrunners track club members get awards at annual banquet

UNDER the distinguished patronage of Phil and Bridgette Smith, the Roadrunners Track & Field Club held its 11th Annual Presentation and Awards Banquet Saturday at the Wyndham resort, Cable Beach.

The theme of this year's event was "Achievement: Accepting No Limitation - A Pillar of Excellence; An Attitude of Success". Minister of Education Desmond Bannister was the keynote speaker.

The club, headed by coach Dexter Bodie, presented awards to about 100 members for their achievement during the past track and field and academic year.


One of the highlights was the recognition of O'Jay Ferguson, who is presently the fastest male junior athlete in the Bahamas. H ...

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News Article

December 05, 2010
New City Market chief seeks to revive company

It's only been about a month since Trans Island Traders Ltd. bought the City Market chain of food stores, but company CEO Mark Finlayson has said the downward financial spiral endured by the chain has ended.
Shrinkage (loss by theft and spoiled goods), major refrigeration problems and issues with creditors brought City Market to near closure a month ago, said Finlayson as he monitored the restocking of shelves at their Cable Beach store yesterday.
Finlayson explained that things were so bad that prior to November 12, customer traffic had dipped to less than half of what it was the same time in 2009.
"It was down to 49 percent. Two weeks ago it was at 51 percent. I just recently looked a ...

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News Article

December 05, 2010
30 million in water system upgrades at Cable Beach for Baha Mar

The Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) will spend more than $30 million upgrading its infrastructure in preparation for the $2.6 billion Baha Mar project, Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour confirmed.
In August, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said the government would need to borrow $50 million to complete infrastructure upgrades at Cable Beach.
Neymour told The Nassau Guardian on Friday that WSC works will include a number of main renewals, upgrades to either the Blue Hill Road or Windsor Road plant facilities and the construction of a reverse osmosis plant at Arawak Cay.
Neymour added that $5.5 million would need to be spent on interconnector piping from John F. Kennedy Drive ...

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News Article

January 16, 2013
Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award - Call for nominations

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Each year The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation offers The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award at the Annual Heart Ball. This award has been presented since 1968. The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award was initiated by The Heart Foundation to applaud and give recognition to individuals who have selflessly given of themselves to promote human welfare and dignity, thus making life better for their fellow man.

At the 2012 Heart Ball Ms. Marjorie Davis received The Lady Sassoon Golden Heart Award. She is known for her work as an educator, and Girl Guides leader. She joined the ranks of noble giants such as Lady Camille Barnett, Mr. Lowell Mortimer, Ms. Mary Profilo and Dr. Donald Gerace.  These persons were all chosen from a pool of worthy candidates, to be the winners of this award.

As the deadline for the award fast approaches, interested persons are invited to nominate an individual, to be accompanied by a letter or statement explaining why the person recommended should receive the award. Nominations are to be submitted to:

The Golden Heart Award Committee
P. O. Box N-8189
Nassau, The Bahamas

Alternatively, submissions can be hand delivered to Grosham Property, Cable Beach. This is the office site for The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation.

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News Article

December 10, 2010
WWeekend kicks off on Saturday

The W Weekend is upon us and KhanAali Media Group, creators of The Little Pink Party(TM) (TLPP), are set to answer the Who, What, Where, Why and When of what Women Want this Winter season with The W Weekend.
The Little Pink Party is the most adored experiential marketing event in The Bahamas. This edition of TLPP, dubbed the W Wonderland, is a six-hour trip into everything fabulously fashionable this holiday season while championing the cause of Breast Cancer Awareness with part proceeds in aid of The Cancer Society of The Bahamas.
This Saturday at the Wyndham Resort, Cable Beach women between 21 and 45 are welcome to shop their favorite brands in the exquisite fashion pavilions, sip delicious co ...

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News Article

September 03, 2010
Bahamas Conference of Seventh Day Adventists present book to Prime Minister

Nassau, Bahamas - A book
entitled Inspirational Sayings and stories from A to Z by Dr. Leonard
A. Johnson, president, Bahamas Conference Of Seventh 'day Adventists
was presented to Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham on
Thursday, September 2 at the office of the Prime Minister, Cable Beach.
Pictured from: Prime Minister Ingraham and Dr. Johnson...

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News Article

August 23, 2012
Man accused of home invasion charged with another robbery

A man accused of a home-invasion robbery in 2010 is back in prison charged with another hold-up.
Prosecutors allege that 56-year-old Jeffrey Wilson, and Laron Grant, 19, robbed a Chinese couple at gunpoint of a deposit bag containing $12,500 outside the Cable Beach branch of Scotiabank on August 20.
Wilson, whose street name is 'Capone', was on bail in connection to the robbery of a family at Coral Harbour in February 2010.
Wilson, of Thurston's Close, Oakes Field, and Grant, of Malcolm Road, are accused of making off with the money that belonged to a Chinese restaurant.
The men are also accused of robbing another person of a purse that contained Chinese currency, $500 cash, a bank card and a driver's license.
Police allege the men fled the scene in a white Honda Accord. The car, a white 2008 Honda Accord, belongs to Donell Ferguson.
Wilson and Grant are accused of stealing the vehicle, which was recovered following their arrest, on August 16.
The men were not required to plead to the armed robbery charges, but they denied the car theft allegation at an arraignment before Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez yesterday.
They have been remanded to prison.

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News Article

August 23, 2012
Baha Mar 25 percent complete

The $2.6 billion Baha Mar project is 25 percent complete, according to Vice President of China State Construction Tiger Wu, who said yesterday the 850 construction workers currently on-site have a herculean task ahead of them if they are to meet the 2014 completion deadline.
However, Wu said as the project goes along he expects more expatriate workers to come in to assist.
"The workers are coming in on a regular basis based on the needs of the project," Wu told reporters shortly after he took Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes and his wife Lady Joan Foulkes on a tour of the construction site.
"So they come in every month based on the needs of the construction."
Of the 850 people working on the ground, most are Chinese workers. However, Wu could not provide an exact number of expatriate workers currently on the project.
As the tour progressed, more than 100 Chinese workers weaved through the site towards the man camp during their lunch break. Some had taped straw brims around their hard hats to help protect them from the sun.
Of the four hotels under construction the casino hotel has advanced the most.

"The casino hotel has reached the 12th floor. The convention hotel, the second four star hotel, it's on the fifth level right now," Wu said. "And the two five star hotels, the Rosewood and Morgan hotels, are under construction at this moment."
Work also continues on Cable Beach.
Beach access surrounding the Baha Mar property is blocked by boulders and a long sea wall to facilitate a beach restoration exercise.
Additionally, Wu said the two towers at the Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino will be demolished by the end of the year.
"So we have about a quarter of the project completed," he said. "But we still have lots of works. And I don't know if you have seen a rendering of the project and see that there are lots of external works, all the poles, landscaping work, bridges, and show lakes.
"And so it'll be quite an undertaking to get the whole project delivered. The completion date for the total project is December 2014. That's when we want the whole project complete."
Following the tour, Sir Arthur said he is pleased with the project and the level of work.
"This whole project represents a tremendous vote of confidence in our Bahamas, the Bahamian people, in the economy of The Bahamas and in our institutions and in our political stability," he said. "This is a huge vote of confidence. It is going to benefit us on many levels. As I said it underlines that confidence that the investing world has in The Bahamas.
"It will provide jobs for Bahamians in the future. It will provide good paying jobs and I think it's just quite wonderful."

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News Article

September 01, 2010
Works employee still in hospital after accident

Tribune Staff Reporter

A Ministry of Works employee remained in hospital yesterday after being struck by a car on Cable Beach on Monday evening.

The man was one of two workmen clearing a spill of sand out of the road sometime after 8pm when the incident occurred, according to Inspector Gregory Johnson from the Cable Beach police station.

An eyewitness from the Cable Beach area reported seeing a body which looked "lifeless" lying on the grassy verge next to the road at around 8.45pm on Monday.

Inspector Johnson yesterday said that the Works employee's injuries are believed to have been non-life threatening, although up until press time con ...

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News Article

August 15, 2012
Government committed to training athletes, says Prime Minister Christie

Bahamas - The Government is committed to scouting for potentially great
athletes in the country and preparing them for the 2016 Olympics and
other future sporting events, the Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry
Christie said.

made the statement during a press conference on the Bahamas men's 4x4
metre relay team gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. The quartet of
Ramon Miller, Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder, and Michael Mathieu paid a
Courtesy Call on the Prime Minister at his Cable Beach office on
Tuesday, August 14, 2012...

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News Article

August 27, 2010
Christie:Baha Mar needs government intervention

Guardian News Editor
Opposition Leader Perry Christie has toldThe Nassau Guardianthat the government should intervene to help speed along a conclusion to Baha Mar's ongoing loan resolution discussions with Scotiabank, which helped to finance the acquisition of the company's Cable Beach hotels.
It is understood that the outstanding loan amount is in the order of$200 million.
The bank is holding the properties as security and a resolution must be reached before Baha Mar and its new Chinese partners could move forward with the planned$2.6 billion development.
In addition to final approval from the Bahamas government, the loan matter is the final hurdle Ba ...

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News Article

January 12, 2013
BVF prepares to host the second round

Members of the men's national volleyball team believe the best way to move onto the next qualification round for the World Championships is to win the second at home in front of a large crowd.
With a regional title and first round win under its belt, The Bahamas' men's squad was spiked the hometown favorite by the North, Central American and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) for the qualification tournament. Bahamas Volleyball Federation (BVF) executives are making preparations and will meet with the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr. Daniel Johnson, to confirm the hosting. The qualification round will be played at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs gymnasium, May 11-12. The last time the federation hosted an event was in 2006, and that was the Caribbean championships. This is the first qualifier the BVF will stage."The Bahamas Volleyball Federation is in the process of writing the letter to the ministry for permission to host the event," said Joseph Smith, first vice president in the BVF. "That letter to the ministry should secure the venue and give us the permission to host. It won't be one that will request financial assistance, but moreso the approval so we can forward it to NORCECA.

"Once we can get that approval then we will deal with the National Sports Authority and face any other challenges that may arise. But one of our concerns is accessing the gym. The area is still under construction, and parking is not as clear cut as it use to be in the past. So, hopefully, we should have final words from both of them in a week or two. We need to secure a meeting with the minister to let him know exactly what we are doing and what we plan to do as well."
Meetings with hotel executives, transportation and food vendors are also priorities for the federation. Right now, according to Smith, the executives are looking at the Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, SuperClubs Breezes and the Royal Palm Hotel. Smith said he's awaiting another communication from Mushtaque Mohammed, president of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA). That document, Smith stated, should have all the requirements the federation will need.

He said: "I think the higher the round is and level you play at, the more upscale everything must be. Even the hotels must be at a high standard. So if you did a two star hotel in round one, the hotel must be three or four star in the next round. We are waiting on that information from NORCECA so we can know exactly what hotel on the Cable Beach strip to book. The confirmation that will be sent back to the board will basically be for the accommodations or hotels, transportations and venue. They also ask federations to send a list of food so they can forward to the other teams. Once we tie those areas down, I think we will on the way."
The Bahamas will play host to Barbados, Saint-Martin and Nicaragua. The men's squad won the first round, held in Curacao in December. Playing in that first round were Jamaica, Martinique and host country Curacao. In July of last year, the men's squad captured the CAZOVA Championships. Both titles were the first in the history for the men's program.

"This is the first time we are hosting a world championships qualifier, so this an inaugural time for us," said Smith. "We are looking to host more tournaments, but the gym has to be up to international standards. We were approached about hosting the Junior World Championships, but we can't. I don't think we are ready for that as yet for a lot of reasons, one being the gym must be able to seat about 5,000 to 10,000 minium seating. The gymnasium needs to have practice courts, along with the courts you will be playing on. So we can't bid for things like that as yet. We are hoping we can in the not too distant future. Tournaments like this will be good for The Bahamas, a good investment."
Smith said the country will now get to see how far the program has come, and share some of the moments through plays when the tournament is held here. The team will welcome a new trainer in March to help with preparation.

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News Article

August 07, 2012
Problems at the new LPIA

Dear Editor,

Your editorial "Welcome to chaos" only touches the problems at the new Lynden Pindling International Airport. You give attention to the arrival of baggage and the customs procedure. But you do not mention the very long walk (it seems like a mile) from the gate to the immigration hall, with no travelators? Hardly a welcome to visitors or returning residents, who carry heavy bags as carry-ons.
On reaching the arrival hall a band such as Blind Blake's sometimes plays to keep the tourists and others in a good mood. The immigration officers do their best to process arrivals with a big smile. The delay is sometimes slow when three or four planes arrive at once. Sometimes the baggage never arrives on the same plane, a fact you discover only after waiting hours to locate it. Yet technology is supposed to record every bag on the plane. Cannot this same technology advise passengers when their bag is left to come on a later flight and that the airline will arrange delivery to their hotel?
My experience in the customs area has been that tourist arrivals are given preference, and are processed with only minor inspection. If a long wait is experienced it may be caused by the lack of operating conveyer belts. There should be better signs to direct tourists to tourist only customs officer lines, and better management of Bahamas residents only lines, where one person with excess baggage can hold up the line for half an hour.
If The Bahamas is serious about welcoming our visitors and sending them home with happy memories, there is need for an improved system for both arrival and departure for all travelers. We have a new airport, but unless thought is given to the problems of large numbers arriving at the same time, or leaving at the same time, there will be nothing but complaints. What will happen when the 2500 extra rooms on Cable Beach bring more and more travelers at the same time?

Word soon gets around the traveling public. As the retired population increases and enjoys more vacations, the quick trip to The Bahamas will be off their short list when word gets around of the long waits in arrival and departure halls. Senior citizens won't put up with this and may stay at home or choose other destinations. All the money spent on advertising The Bahamas is soon counteracted by such negative publicity and word of mouth.

There must be a better way to process all travelers including the sick, the elderly, the lame and young children. No preference or consideration is given to those travelers, except that airlines offer wheel chairs and preferential boarding. No preference is given to senior citizens proud enough to join the rest of the public. No seats are made available in the customs hall while you wait to be processed or wait for your luggage. Even the lowly auto parts shops have a ticket system so you know how many people are in front of you, so that if there are many you can return to your car, or spend time looking at other merchandise. As for the lame or elderly, if they all took advantage of the complementary wheel chair services even more chaos would result. And why is there not better information on plane arrivals and departures and delays? Surely this should also be posted in the U.S. customs hall. Once in the U.S. customs hall you are a trapped. There is no way out, no way to get to a toilet, nowhere to sit down, and the wait can be over 90 minutes.
The commercial banks give preference to senior citizens, and big commercial customers, and make no profit from doing so. All LPIA travelers are paying good money to travel, and much of that money goes to the government and the Airport Authority and the U.S. government. You cannot blame the airlines.
If The Bahamas has negotiated for U.S. customs and immigration to pre-clear passengers at a cost paid by the traveler of $20.00 or more per person, they should be required to provide a better service. They know the flight schedules. They know the number of persons to process each hour. Yet they limit the number of officers allocated at peak hours, resulting in waits of two hours from the time the electronic ticket is processed by the airlines, to the time you clear U.S. immigration and customs. If the planes decide to wait for passengers delayed in this queue, this is a cost and a disruption to the airline and the various agencies handling passengers, not to mention the delays in the next flights later in the day.
Much is made of new technology. The requirements of the U.S. to have all travelers listed 24 hours before departure so that they can be pre-processed means they have no excuse. There should be a system to weed out suspected persons needing more scrutiny, so that the honest travelers can avoid these long queues.
Don't blame the system of pre-screening passenger luggage and body searches. This works in a reasonable time, and cannot be accelerated when the U.S. immigration and customs line is already starting well behind the entry to their hall. The patient passengers think they will soon be processed, and then find another hour or more in another queue inside the U.S. hall. It is worse than Disney World at peak times. At least they tell you if the wait is half an hour or two hours and you can choose to go or not on the ride.
Why do travelers need to be at the airport 3 hours before departure, then find that the flight is another 2 hours delayed? Five hours wasted before you get on your flight to the U.S.A., sometimes only 25 minutes in the air before arrival in Miami, for example. Again the technology exists to keep passengers advised. We pay $350.00 for a return trip to Miami, 180 miles. yet only $1200 for a return trip to London of at least 9 hours each way.

- Concerned Bahamian resident and traveler

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News Article

July 31, 2012
Vendors in Nassau Straw Market critical of new rules

Straw vendors in the Nassau Straw Market on Bay Street are upset about new rules governing how they display their merchandise in the market, with some vendors claiming it is unfair.
According to the vendors, compliance officers from the Straw Market Authority met with them early yesterday morning, outlining that they must break down the extensions on the top of their stalls and remove merchandise from the bottom of their stalls.
Vendors said that the stalls alone do not offer enough space to display their wares, and items stored inside the booths do not sell.
"In my entire life I have never experienced [this]," said Wendy Nixon, who has been a vendor in the market for nearly 30 years.
"We always had some type of rules, but never like this. This is bringing us back to when Moses went to Pharaoh and asked to let his people go. Pharaoh didn't comply. These officers are worse than Pharaoh.
She continued, "We know if we came out of Egypt, should we be back in Egypt or [in] the Promised Land?
"They have a problem that they don't want us to be able to display our work in a neat fashion. We have to display our work in a way that the tourists can see and be able to buy."
Cheryl Brenan, a vendor for over 20 years said, "I would like to know why they keep on telling us that we must only display one of this and one of that in the shop. How do they expect us to make the money to pay the rent?"
Chairman of the Straw Market Authority Ron Pinder said he was surprised vendors went to the press with their concerns.
"I am really taken aback that they would have taken that approach, after I extended open doors [to them]," said Pinder yesterday.
"[I] met with them, met with the leaders and anytime they have any questions when I am passing throughout the market they would stop me and talk to me."
Pinder said he would not comment further and would bring the issue up during the authority's first board meeting, which was to be held yesterday evening.
Wendy Lightbourne, a straw vendor for over 30 years, said she won't comply with the rule.
"I have a medical issue [and] my shop has to be here to help me pay my bills," she said. "I don't think we need to move the [extensions] because we need space to display our work in this market."
Lightbourne noted that many of the vendors are upset and ready to fight as their livelihood is at stake.
Nixon said she wants to talk directly with the prime minister.
"We need to call on [Prime Minister] Perry Gladstone Christie... to come and see about our business because it is much too long now, May 7 has passed and we haven't heard anything from them," she said. "We only see puppets walking about. Since Perry Christie holds the puppet strings we need to hear from him. We need to hear from [Deputy Prime Minister Philip] Brave Davis. We need to hear from the persons that we elected to come into this market and stop oppressing us."
Vendors subsequently marched in the market, chanting "we will not be moved".
They also complained about the lack of fans or an air-conditioning unit in the market.
The $12 million market officially opened last December, more than 10 years after the old market was destroyed by fire.
There are 497 vendors in the Bay Street market and 103 in the Cable Beach market.

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News Article

July 19, 2012
Defending the FNM's record

In his typical bombastic and inelegant style, the chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in a letter to the editor of The Nassau Guardian of July 3 responded to legitimate criticism from the leader of the Free National Movement (FNM) of the PLP's denial of the severity of the global recession by charging that the FNM administration made it worse.
This deceit was part of the PLP's propaganda when in opposition. Another part of that deceit was the outrageous claim of the billions of dollars of "notional" projects which they had lined up for inward investment prior to their defeat in 2007 and which they claimed the FNM's 'stop, review and cancel' policy had prevented from progressing.
The continued reference to billion-dollar projects that suffered from the alleged 'stop, review and cancel' policy must be a reference to the PLP planned massive land giveaways (as was contemplated at Mayaguana) to various prospectors who had not even secured the funding for some hugely exaggerated projects on which they could not possibly deliver even with the sale of Bahamian land.
But this was the propaganda engaged in at the time and presumably being resurrected by the chairman of the PLP now. The PLP seemed to subscribe to a policy of announcing huge investment deals, highlighting exorbitant sums which they hope will be invested and large numbers of new jobs they hope will result, but not making the terms of the agreements public so that if or when they did not materialize the government's embarrassments might be minimized.
The Free National Movement (FNM) does not go that way; that is why before the end of 2007 the FNM government tabled heads of agreement concluded by the PLP but never tabled in the House of Assembly as follows:
Project/co. name

Date heads of agreement signed
1. Governor's Harbour Resort & Marina

March 23, 2004
2. Rav Bahamas (Bimini Bay)

June 9, 2004
3. Kerzner International
(Supplement to heads)

December 7, 2004
4. Pittstown Landing

April 27, 2005
5. Cape Eleuthera Properties &
Powell Point Properties Ltd.

May 3, 2005
6. Baha Mar Development

April 6, 2005
(Cable Beach)
7. GINN-LA West End

Dec 9, 2005
(Amendment to heads of agreement)

June 8, 2006
8. EGI Ltd.

April 24, 2006
9. Sky Beach Development

April 20, 06
10. RC Rose Island Hotel Co.

February 13, 2006
(Amendment to heads of agreement)

April 12, 2007
11. Crystal Mount (Cat Island)

January 16, 2006
12. Royal Island (off N. Eleuthera)

December 14, 2006
13. Park Ridge Securities (Albany)

November 9, 2006
March 6, 2007 (Amendment)
14. Lignum Vitae Cay Ltd.

April 27, 2007
15. Bonds Cay (Berries)

May 1, 2007
None of these projects were stopped or reviewed by the new FNM government. Instead everything was done to facilitate them moving forward in a timely fashion. The worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression intervened and stopped virtually all of these projects. Those which proceeded - Albany, Baha Mar, Rav Bahamas - did so because of extraordinary efforts by the FNM.
Such efforts and support to others of the projects - notably GINN, Exuma Resorts Developers-Setai/Aman, RC Rose Island and the Harcourt Group in Grand Bahama - could not overcome the fallout for these projects from the recession and very directly the failure of important international financial groups like Lehman Brothers.
The record also shows that by February 2008 the FNM government had concluded and tabled in the House of Assembly three major agreements which had stalled under the first Christie government: those relating to the doubling in the size of the Baha Mar project inclusive of seeking and obtaining parliamentary approval to transfer a portion of the public road (now deviated West Bay Street) and other government-owned land to Baha Mar; the conclusion with the Park Ridge Securities relating to the Albany project and including parliamentary approval for the transfer of portions of south west Bay Street and of portions of South Ocean Boulevard in exchange for a new south west Bay Street now named Frank Watson Boulevard, and the conclusion of a superseding heads of agreement with the Exuma Resorts Developers for the development of a Setai/Aman Resort at Norman's Cay.
Bradley Roberts continues the PLP distortion that the FNM chose to award the New Providence Road and Utility Improvement Project to an international (Argentinian) company excluding presumably able Bahamian companies. He ignores the fact that the bid for this project was put to international tender (as required by the Inter-American Development Bank) by the PLP government. Under that government no reputable international company responded to the bid. The FNM's return to government brought a response from international companies and following a competitive analysis, Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles (JCCC) was awarded the contract.
Roberts also conveniently fails to acknowledge that every Bahamian road paving company was engaged by the FNM government between 2007 and 2012 on other important and significant road and utility upgrade projects - many of which are now ongoing in New Providence (deviated West Bay Street and the connector road to JFK Drive; Bay Street from Nassau Street to Mackey Street, intersection improvements along East Bay Street to the Montagu fishing ramp; Moss Road extension and access roads to the new sports center and all Family Island road projects).
Roberts also seeks to ignore that in each of the five budgets presented to Parliament during the FNM's last administration - 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 - there was a consistent reduction in customs duties and the elimination of duties on a number of products to ease the cost of living on the community, to improve the competitiveness of the tourism product or to provide specific incentives. This happened in each of the five budgets. It is worthy of recalling that the systematic reduction of customs duty rates and the reduction of the number of rates are policies introduced by the first FNM government between 1992 and 1997.
It is acknowledged that in the 2010/2011 budget, in addition to continuing the reduction in customs duties on selective products to ease the cost of living broadly, provision was made for increases in several taxes to ease the financial strain that was having an unfortunate impact on the country's fiscal circumstances. Roberts' claim that the policy was a failure is untrue. The policy produced an increase in revenue over the previous year of $160 million and led directly to a lower deficit.
It is never clear from these critics of that fiscal policy whether they are promoting lower spending or higher deficits. Balancing the trade-off between debt and unemployment in that global recession was probably an issue of such delicacy that it did not likely catch the chairman's fancy.
Roberts has also not been able to make the distinction between debt and spending that creates infrastructure - fixed assets for the country and debt for which no remaining evidence can be found. This is why he has been able to say such critical things about the increase in debt during a devastating global recession in which the opportunity was taken by the FNM to deficit-finance the construction of infrastructure to facilitate the economy's future growth while also easing the strain of unemployment. On the other hand he overlooks, and hopes that the public will not notice, the shame of the huge creation of debt during a period of economic growth with nothing to show for the spending during the period presided over by PLP from mid-2002 to mid-2007. He might consider this is why his party while commanding a majority of seats in the House of Assembly, does not command the support of the majority of registered Bahamian voters.
Roberts and the PLP already are getting a sense of the challenge of economic management in a period of economic adversity. Already they have demonstrated that their understanding of job creation is restricted to finding jobs for their members and supporters even if they can only achieve this by firing Bahamians they met working.
It is also to be noted that notwithstanding that economic circumstances have already begun to improve and the recession has ended, they began their term with the largest deficit in the country's history. No doubt they will seek to blame the previous administration for the size of their deficit, but they understand that they are in charge now, as they are quick to point out, and the choice was theirs to make.
Finally, Roberts objects to the FNM reminding that the PLP has failed to keep its promise and pledge to be ready to govern on day one. He seeks to excuse the failure of the PLP to name new boards including naming new chairmen for the most important public corporations where FNM political appointees resigned their posts at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) and the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas (ZNS) by comparing the PLP record to that of the FNM. The FNM welcomes such comparisons as the superiority of FNM performance in every segment of government can be readily seen. We have a record and we are proud to stand by it.
Roberts will have considerable opportunity to engage in vitriolic bluster in response to legitimate criticism of the PLP's governance and propaganda, particularly since so much of their governance seems to be conducted by public broadcast by way of the usurpation of ZNS news.

o Charles Maynard is the chairman of the Free National Movement.

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News Article

July 13, 2012
An opportunity to push sustainable tourism

Guardian Business: Can you briefly describe your experience in the tourism sector and what your role is today?

Sonia: I had the privilege of working for the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island from 2002-2005. It was a breakthrough opportunity for me after serving seven years at the Ministry of Works as a design engineer and project manager. In the role at Atlantis I drew on my project management skills, as I had responsibility for executing an annual multi-million dollar capital budget for all the senior vice presidents of the company who were at the time my internal customers. Unlike in the public sector I was given a lot of autonomy to run the projects department. I, of course, closely coordinated with the heads of the facilities division but felt empowered, and I was expected to succeed.
I currently own and operate a full service mechanical and electrical engineering consultancy and, as it turns out, my major project is the Baha Mar Development resort being undertaken on Cable Beach. Graphite Engineering Ltd. has been selected as the Mechanical and Electrical Engineers of Record for this project.

GB: Why did you choose to work in tourism as a career?

Sonia: I did not choose tourism specifically as a career, but as a consequence of what was available in the economy. An opportunity in tourism presented itself and I was pleased to embrace it. Bahamian engineers continue to be under represented in major tourism projects at the level of design and onwards. This will only change if we continue to build capacity and, when given an opportunity, we provide stellar service.

GB: What has been your most memorable moment?

Sonia: My team was given the opportunity to oversee the renovation of the Crown Ballroom. By dollar value it was the largest project given to our department. It was not a technically challenging assignment but we had a very short time frame to deliver the project, and we were able to get it done.

GB: Has the industry changed since you started your career? How?

Sonia: As it specifically refers to the engineering services in hotels, there have been a myriad of changes because the mechanical and electrical systems that support these buildings, keeping them lit and cool, continue to be more sophisticated.

GB: What should The Bahamas focus on to stay competitive?

Sonia: We are currently sitting on an opportunity to aggressively push sustainable tourism and make this a given for any property in The Bahamas. We should require that our hotels in the first instance be high performance buildings, with excellent carbon footprints. We should be reusing, recycling and cutting waste. If we can do this without hurting our cost competitiveness we would set ourselves apart from the pack and demonstrate that we really care about our country.

GB: What advice would you give to a young person who is considering a career in tourism?

Sonia: Do your homework, literally. There a lot of opportunities very high up in the food chain of these resorts that Bahamians can fill. We must accept the fact that a lot of the developers are multi-national companies and it means we may be competing with international persons for jobs at home. This means we need to get international exposure and experience, and be prepared to function at the top of our game.

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