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Baha Mar has not yet broken ground and already the development has hit a road block, with almost 60 truckers yesterday refusing to work along with the company contracted to build the new road that will connect JFK Drive with the diverted Cable Beach Strip, until they are paid $30 to $40 more for their services.
Chairman of the Independent Truckers and Heavy Equipment Operators of The Bahamas, Gus Outten, said Island Site Developers (ISD) has offered to pay the truckers $45 per load of fill they move to and from the road construction site.
However, Outten and the group of truckers, who parked almost 50 large trucks in an empty lot just east of the Cable Beach Police Station, said they want $80 per loa ...
Bahamas Express and the Bahamas Tourist Office have
a one day familiarization trip on the new fast ferry service to Grand
Bahama Island for approximately 50 Florida travel agents and 7 dive
The group will sail to Grand Bahama Island on the
Pinar del Río which is operated by Bahamas Express between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Freeport, Grand Bahama.
The ferry will depart Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale at 10:00 am and arrive in Grand Bahama at 12:30 pm.
It will depart Grand Bahama at 7:00 pm.
This schedule will allow the agents to enjoy the sights on shore.
Once on Island, they will visit...
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- The Dive industry is a multi-million dollar business and relies heavily on selling one of our country's biggest assets, the ocean! As part of UNEXSO's on-going effort to preserve the sensitive aquatic environment, dive instructors and staff whose livelihoods depend on the sustainability of our undersea paradise, have spearheaded a campaign to execute mooring systems around Grand Bahamas' oceans.
Since September 2011 the UNEXSO Dive Team have re-moored 24 of the 25 active dive sites on Freeport's south side. Mooring systems consist of spliced polypropylene and/or dacron line attached to an inflatable mooring ball, which is subsequently secured to a mooring anchor eye on the sea floor or wreck site. Using mooring systems eliminates the use of anchors by local dive operators, visiting live-aboard dive boats, Grand Bahama residents, and visitors. This practice protects Grand Bahamas' delicate underwater terrain for current and future generations.
UNEXSO has internally financed the mooring systems in Grand Bahama for over 20 years with an average spend of $8,000 and $12,000 annually to keep all the moorings up to date. This year's efforts however are being partially funded by a grant from PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) Project AWARE. Project AWARE is a non-profit, worldwide organization dedicated to "Conserving underwater environments through education, advocacy and action." The foundation was established in 1995 in response to growing concerns by some scuba divers about potential harm inflicted on coral reefs by recreational and commercial water activities.
Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in The Bahamas are being encouraged to explore opportunities in the tourism industry, with CARICOM officials arguing it offers personal and national benefits.
"The SMEs within tourism really make the product," said Allyson Francis, trade in services specialist with CARICOM. "When we highlight the tourism sector, we're not only talking about persons related to tourism but all tour operators and tour guides, restaurants, people with dive fishing. . . it's not all about the sun, sea and sand and if you don't have these activities, persons may not even be attracted to the destination.
"These persons are already critical in the whole development of the tourism product."
It's a message she hopes to drive home with industry insiders yesterday at the first Regional Seminar on Tourism - SMEs and Tourism Development in the Caribbean Region. Francis said the mindset of tourism centering around only hotels should be changed and that the tourism product will only become more competitive with more projects outside of the hotel doors.
The argument has been made several times in the nation, but analysts insist it still remains relevant. Still, Francis notes challenges that many businesses face with trying to fill the void in terms of offerings.
"From a regional stand point, the issue there is financing available that they are not fully aware of," she added. "Even if they are aware of financing, the mechanisms or the procedures they have to go through to access the financing are difficult.
"It's not a Bahamian issue, it's a regional issue in terms of accessing funding that is available."
She encouraged businesses to make better use of support organizations like the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, that have access to information. She said they also play a critical role in growing SME involvement in the tourism industry.
MACAU - Baha Mar is targeting around 25,000 well-heeled tourists each year from Asia and hopes gaming will account for up to one-third of its total business.
The $3.5 billion mega resort, slated to be completed in western New Providence by December 2014, intends to leverage its well-known corporate roots. Baha Mar is being financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and constructed by China Construction America.
Executives said that a direct flight from China could be in the cards once a "critical mass" of interest has been established. Until then, a strong effort will be made to funnel Asian tourists through Canadian or U.S. connections.
"Our first goal is to develop connectivity," said Robert "Sandy" Sands, senior vice president of administration and external relations. "Until we develop a critical mass, directs flights are not feasible. It will take a period of time."
The top Baha Mar executive identified Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, Toronto and Vancouver as key stopovers before carrying on to Nassau. While most tourists will likely come from North America, Asia and indeed Latin America are seen as a profitable "diversification" of the tourism draw.
Asian tourists tend to be more dedicated gamblers, stay for longer periods of time and spend larger amounts of cash per visit, according to Sands. Those attributes are a recipe for success when it comes to the gaming product.
The resort already runs a Hong Kong office. Therefore, marketing and the establishment of "junket operators" will be crucial to enticing the Asian market. Junket operators essentially manage the affairs and travel arrangements of high-net-worth gamblers.
"Do not underestimate the power of the Asian gambler, it is not about quantity, but about quality," Sands added.
Pete Wu, senior vice president of international casino marketing and alliances for Baha Mar, called 25,000 high-end Asian tourists "enormous".
However, top of the agenda for Wu is a more simple task: Helping Asian tourists find The Bahamas on a map.
"Where is The Bahamas? How long is the flight? These are the first steps. So we're trying to educate the consumer," he explained.
Linked with the rise of Asian tourists will be a major push by Baha Mar officials to raise the bar of service. One of the primary reasons for a large delegation to Macau is to demonstrate the high level of service in this mecca of gaming.
Resort executives are joined by Obie Wilchcombe, the minister of tourism, for the G2E Asia 2013 exhibition, the largest casino event in the world.
"I would say service is our biggest opportunity. I feel we can rise to the occasion and get it done," Sands told Guardian Business. "Recruiting the right Bahamian, and giving him or her the right exposure, we can accomplish these goals."
Over the coming days, the Baha Mar delegation will continue to hammer home these principles and make their presence known at the G2E Asia 2013 convention. The tour comes to a crescendo on Wednesday when Baha Mar is sponsoring a special lunch at the Venetian Expo Center.
Guardian Business understands that Sarkis Izmirlian, the CEO of Baha Mar, is expected to make an important speech concerning the mega resort's casino product.
Fort Lauderdale, Fl - The large and impressive presence of The Islands Of The Bahamas at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, over the weekend, October 27th through 31st, has garnered the country immeasurable publicity and exposure.
The Ministry of Tourism's February 2012 "Islands of The Bahamas Arrivals Report" contains some very useful and informative data on the tourism industry in The Bahamas, and a lot more information on the economic performances of those countries from which our visitors originate.
The report, compiled by the ministry's research department, provides a summary of total visitor arrivals to The Bahamas for the year 2011, in what appears to be a record-breaking total of 5.234 million. That figure is broken down further to show that only 1.29 million of those visitors (or about 25 percent) arrived by air.
There is something troubling about that figure when it is taken into account that about 25 years ago The Bahamas was boasting total air arrivals in the region of 1.5 million. What is more troubling is the fact that we are in the midst of the worst recession ever experienced in a modern Bahamas and the agency which oversees our most important industry appears to be offering no concrete solutions.
Almost 75 percent of the report outlines the economic challenges facing the United States as a result of the crash of the housing market there, and the subsequent financial meltdown. The rise in unemployment, particularly in the northeastern states, is highlighted perhaps to remind us that the reason for the poor performance of our local economy is tied to employment levels in the U.S. It is also noted that Texas, contrary to popular belief, generates more tourists for The Bahamas than many of the northeastern states.
Similar information is provided on Canada and the western European nations whose citizens also visit The Bahamas, although not in such great numbers as the Americans. Again, the intent is presumably to inform us that it is the global slowdown in economic activity that is adversely affecting our visitor arrivals (by air) and consequently contributing to the slow economic growth figures.
Those examples, or more appropriately arguments, would have been more persuasive had we not been made aware from other sources that air arrival tourists were up and growing impressively in our competitor destinations, such as Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Cancun, Mexico. Some mention of the costly and perhaps unsustainable subsidies to the industry in the form of 'companion airfare' is given as a successful policy response to the crisis.
For more than half a century tourism has played a pivotal role in the economic development process of this country. It has accounted for most of the foreign direct investment, more than 50 percent of direct and indirect employment, and has provided the necessary level of foreign exchange inflows to not only fund our insatiable import appetite but also to support the important one-to-one peg between the U.S. dollar and the Bahamian dollar.
In other words, unless and until we fix whatever is wrong with our tourism industry (and fix it urgently), the economic and social dislocations currently being experienced in the country will continue unabated. Large numbers of skilled and semi-skilled Bahamians will join the unemployed labor force. Unable to meet their debt commitments, they run the risk of losing their homes and other assets acquired during better times. Unable to provide the needed level of support for their immediate families, the inevitable household tension could rip families apart.
What is needed is a recognition of the importance of the tourist industry to The Bahamas in general and to the partial solution to the current economic crisis in particular. In the short-term, attempts to stimulate other less important parts of the economy or programs to diversify production from our main service provider simply will not create the number or types of jobs sufficient to absorb the unemployed.
The tourism plant, in terms of existing and planned hotel rooms, needs some form of re-tooling to ensure it is functioning at its optimal potential. We know for instance that the costs of labor and utilities are out of line with our competitors, placing the country at a pricing disadvantage. Those areas need to be addressed, perhaps by permitting the hotel operators to produce (hopefully more efficiently) their utility needs rather than relying on the inefficient state-owned corporations.
Above all, we need more air-arrivals since that category of visitor spends more than 10 times what is spent by their cruise counterparts, making a larger contribution to employment and output in the country. The Bahamas at this time in our history needs a fresh, focused and comprehensive plan to increase the number of air arrivals in order to produce the required number of jobs and to begin the process to effectively reverse the unemployment trend.
oCFAL is a sister company of The Nassau Guardian under the AF Holdings Ltd. umbrella. CFAL provides investment management, research, brokerage and pension services. For comments, please contact CFAL at: email@example.com.
SHANGHAI, China (GIS) -- Grenada’s Booth continues to be the center of attraction in the CARICOM Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai. The Expo, which opened to the public in May, will run through the end of October 2010.
Grenada is participating in the global event along with 13 other Caribbean countries who are all converged in a joint pavilion under the leadership of CARICOM.
Drilling for oil in The Bahamas is a contentious issue, yet it is one that can only be resolved by moving the process forward. Under the previous administration, the process was delayed when a moratorium was placed on oil exploration in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill. And now, the government has feigned decisiveness by confirming compliance with license requirements subject to a public referendum on oil exploration and drilling.
While public involvement is the foundation of a democracy, public officials are elected because they encompass the qualities and intellect to lead and implement policies that positively impact future generations. When needed, government officials seek expert advice and consultation to steer technical policy decisions.
Oil drilling carries a heavy burden because the economic benefits are vast yet clouded by the potential for an environmental disaster and corruption. This confluence of socio-economic and environmental factors compounded by cutting-edge technology requires a team of experts to model, analyze and report various scenarios to the layman.
Will the people be adequately informed and educated on oil drilling specific to The Bahamas? For a country with a dearth of technical professions, it seems very unlikely that voters will be fully prepared to make this very important decision.
Unfortunately, whether members of the public approve or reject oil drilling in The Bahamas, they will be the scapegoat for the lack of political will by either governing party, the Free National Movement (FNM) or Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), to make a decision.
A referendum should not be used as a political ploy to deflect responsibility.
Even if the last exploratory well was drilled in 1986, why has the government decided that it now requires a public referendum? Credible attempts to add The Bahamas to the list of oil producing countries have been on-going for the past 60 years.
A frenzy of activity occurred between 1945 and 1971 followed by a subsequent gap until 1982 when amended petroleum legislation stimulated a brief renewal in interest. Licenses were held at one time by Chevron, Texaco, Mobile and other principle operators still largely recognizable today.
Unlike previous attempts, the combination of technological advancements, the rise in crude oil prices and the continued expenditure of resources by BPC, this may well be the first time in Bahamian history that oil extraction becomes possible as a viable industry.
With the Deepwater Horizon spill still featuring prominently in discourse, the government may fear a public relations disaster by endorsing oil exploration. But the physical conditions south of Andros differ vastly from the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bahamas is in a perilous economic state with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noting the GDP-to-debt ratio approaching 60 percent in part because of "contingent liabilities among public corporations such as the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC)". In an ironic twist of fate, the very industry under scrutiny holds the country hostage for energy production because oil prices continue to rise.
But statements from the IMF touting the potential revenues based on the size of oil deposits should be carefully regarded. Lessening The Bahamas' reliance on petroleum products for energy production would be a significant economic stimulus, and oil revenues, if approved and if extracted, would be an added bonus. The Bahamas cannot wait and count on prospective oil resources to become self-sufficient.
The Government of The Bahamas must commit to investment in renewable energy technologies. Diversifying the energy portfolio of The Bahamas is an act that does not require a referendum.
Challenging economic conditions have caused the Bahamas Property Fund to take a hit in occupancy levels, as executives seek more innovative ways to attract tenants.
Michael Anderson, president of RoyalFidelity Merchant Bank and Trust, said that a downturn in occupancy levels in its buildings will not solve itself. He said that drawing more clients to its properties throughout the country will require more creativity.
"We've been struggling with occupancy... Since 2008 we've started to lose a few tenants and in 2010 we started to lose one or two key tenants," Anderson said. "We haven't been able to replace those tenants and slowly our occupancy level has deteriorated down to 75 percent."
The decline in occupancy levels was somewhat reflected in its second quarter results, as the BISX-listed firm experienced a 34.6 percent drop in its net income year-on-year from $974,132 in 2011 to $636,350 in 2012. Funds from operators were also down from last year, decreasing from $1.04 million to $700,350.
Anderson added that the challenge itself is finding the right client to occupy its properties, which consists of offshore banks and other financial services operations. He said in an earlier interview that diversifying into the retail market was a possibility, given the low occupancy rates.
"The difficulty for any property downtown is finding a suitable tenant who can afford to pay the rates, and in our case for the Financial Center, the amenities that are not available in a lot of the downtown buildings, there is a narrow market for those who are willing to pay for those additional services," Anderson said. "It's more difficult during times like these to attract the suitable tenant and there's a lot of space on the market, which makes it more difficult."
Being more creative and flexible in its approach to attract clients will be critical going foward, according to Anderson.
He said that implementing this approach during a time when economic conditions are expected to improve next year will be a huge selling factor.
"2013 is not a massive recovery year for The Bahamas, but some people think that some further recovery we experienced in 2012 will occur in 2013 and we should expect more improvement going into 2014 once an uptick in employment happens and Baha Mar comes on stream," he said.
"We hope that people will feel more comfortable making a long term commitment to these properties. This is really what we need."