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The annual ritual of making the pilgrimage of attending the North Eleuthera Regatta continued this past Discovery Weekend. From Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham to the Leader of the Opposition Perry Christie, and everyone in between, including political wannabes, attended. They were joined by the hundreds and hundreds who would not miss this event for anything in the world despite the recession, the weather, the lack of accommodations, etc. Those factors did not deter the multitude of persons, many of whom had been coming for years because they know that the biggest open secret is that Briland is still sweet.
Yes, a regatta is supposed to be an event where sailboats race, but the regatta in North Eleuthera is something else - 72 hours of non-stop bacchanal with family reunions and comradery. Persons from all walks of life simply just come to Briland and have a good time in a safe environment, as the Royal Bahamas Police Force does an excellent job of keeping the peace.
This is also an occasion when a number of enterprising local entrepreneurs take advantage of the opportunity to make money. Traditionally, most of the Briland hotels close from the first week in September after the American Labor Day weekend until the end of October or mid-November. This year due to Hurricane Irene, they closed prematurely. That is why accommodations are so difficult to find on Briland during regatta in October. Regrettably, what is a clear case of discrimination against Bahamians is that a number of private homeowners normally rent their homes to international persons, but they instruct their agents not to rent to Bahamians, especially during regatta.
Another source of frustration for Brilanders hoping to make a few dollars during these tough economic times is the fact that there were free parties, in particular one that was sponsored by one of the major number houses. This selfish act undermined the efforts of those who were depending on recouping their investments in the regatta.
However, even with the measured success of this regatta, all was certainly not well in paradise. Harbour Island and Eleuthera are suffering from decaying infrastructure the government of The Bahamas is just ignoring - or it doesn't care. There doesn't appear to be any coordinated effort to address these issues. Many persons feel that the incumbent Member of Parliament and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alvin Smith, who has been representing the area for the past 15 years, has not been vocal enough in voicing the concerns of the people of the North Eleuthera constituency.
Yes, everyone was happy when the contract to fix Three Island Dock on Eleuthera, the drop-off point for persons travelling from Eleuthera to Harbour Island, was signed about a month ago. However, there was no consideration given to Regatta 2011. Persons arriving at North Eleuthera Airport were shocked when they discovered that they had to drag their luggage almost 100 yards across a construction site to catch the ferry. No temporary path had been indicated and there was no overhead shelter to protect individuals from inclement weather. It actually rained in North Eleuthera for most of the weekend. The only public building on the dock had been flattened by the contractors.
Consequently, there was no shelter or bathroom at Three Island Dock. Many persons felt that when one considers the number of persons who use the dock that weekend, this part of the exercise should have been delayed until after the regatta.
Furthermore, in the past, Three Island Dock was the venue for the official opening ceremonies of the regatta. This year, obviously, they had to be held elsewhere. In addition, the dock is usually lined with vendors trying to make a few dollars from the regatta crowd. This year due to the construction, they were denied the privilege, as the whole area is now a construction site. Everyone agrees that there should have been better planning on the construction on the dock and not just a mad rush to get the job done.
However, the biggest infrastructure disaster in North Eleuthera must be the roads on Harbour Island. What a disastrous disgrace. Unlike the roads in Nassau that are all "dig up, dig up", the roads on Harbour Island are just simply bad. In Nassau, there are people who are working on the roads, but in Harbour Island there is no one working on the roads and no one can give a date as to when roadwork might actually start in Briland.
Efforts for a temporary fix by filling some of the major holes with sand proved to be a waste of time, as the rain just simply washed the sand out. Needless to say, these potholes do severe damage to the main mode of transport on Harbour Island - that is, the golf cart. A number of persons who rent out golf carts indicated that they cannot buy new carts or upgrade their fleet as the bad roads will only destroy them. This is a view held not just by the locals, but the tourists as well who are also asking the question as to when the roads will be fixed. There is at least one pothole on Colebrooke Street that I measured at almost two feet deep. Not only is this damaging to vehicles, but there is a risk to human injury as well. Brilanders were happy to observe members of the government, including Ingraham, navigate the roads of Harbour Island on a golf cart. Now he knows firsthand the state of the Harbour Island roads as those who feel it know.
Finally, it is a great mystery as to why a certain cabinet minister refused to drink a glass of water that came out of the public pump in Harbour Island; maybe he felt that it might be a threat to his health.
The point is that this is the water the people of Harbour Island, who cannot afford to buy bottled water, have to drink. The public water in Harbour Island is so offensively salty and horrible, the Ministry of Health should analyze it with a view as to whether or not it is safe for public consumption. When one looks at the financial contribution to the Public Treasury, especially with its elite tourism product, it is reasonable to say that Briland deserves better. Infrastructure development in Harbour Island should be given top priority by this government.
DR. LEATENDORE PERCENTIE
Avid golfers will delight in Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas' exclusive new unlimited golf promotion, available for guests staying in a Butler room category for a minimum four-night stay. Qualified bookings will receive free unlimited rounds of golf at the Greg Norman-designed Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club from now through October 27, 2011, for travel through October 31, 2012.
Guests will experience the recently renovated 7,001 yard, par-72 Greg Norman Championship Golf Course, which includes a new state of the art irrigation system, reshaped and edged bunkers, new bunker drainage, major landscaping improvements and new maintenance equipment to ensure that the course is in pristine condition.
The oceanside course continues to impress even the most esteemed players with stunning seaside views, environmentally-friendly facets and lush vegetation. Before or after hitting the links, players can venture into the Shark Shack, the club's new casual golf lounge featuring drinks, games and an outdoor deck.
In order to participate in this promotion, a tee time is mandatory and based on availability, and must be booked at the Golf Shop between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. This promotion is available per person, per room and is non-transferable between persons in the room or to other guests. Use of golf carts and clubs are available at additional costs.
Recently celebrating its one year anniversary, the Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club is a part of the luxurious Sandals Emerald Bay, set on a mile-stretch of white sand beach in Great Exuma, Bahamas. In addition to the exclusive golf promotion, guests will experience all that embodies a Luxury Included® Vacation including fine dining options at seven restaurants, premium brand wines and spirits such as wines by Beringer Vineyards and El Dorado Rum, endless land and watersports including scuba diving for certified divers, nightly entertainment, airport transfers and all resort taxes and fees.
Mechanics are making final checks under the hoods of more than 50 luxury cars that will be paraded through the streets of New Providence, when The Bahamas Speed Week once again takes over the capital in a few months.
With just 106 days left before the drivers rev up their engines to partake in the highly anticipated week, organizers have shifted into another gear preparing for the event that is expected to bring thousands of visitors to New Providence. The series of races and cultural events will be held between November 24 and December 2.
The revival of speed week has been a dream of Jimmie Lowe and David McLaughlin. Lowe is the association's president and McLaughlin an organizer. Both gentlemen were around in the 1950s and 1960s when the event was a big hit in the country. They have given of all their time and effort to ensure that the event, sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, is a success.
"This year we have worked tirelessly to make this happen," said Lowe. "It has been a dream for about 30 years. This event originated back in the 1950s and 1960s and it was about tourism, putting heads on beds, bringing people in just after the Thanksgiving weekend and (filling) a lull we had between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is why it is held the time of year it is held this year as well.
"When we started this out we had a five year plan. Our goal is to make this the biggest social must do event in The Bahamas going forward. Our view, going forward, is to some day do it again with golf carts for the kids here in The Bahamas, get them interested."
An 18,000 square foot tent was erected in the parking area at Arawak Cay last year, this time around the organizers are putting up a 26,000 square foot tent. This will accommodate the 60 cars that will compete in the week-long event. So far, more than 30 drivers have confirmed their participation. The route has also been extended making it accessible to all, especially viewers and patrons of Fish Fry.
The event has attracted drivers from the local and international arenas. According to Lowe, most of the cars will be coming out of Europe and will be added to the count of local vehicles. Lowe, as well as Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe, is pleased to know that the revival of speed week works hand-in-hand with the government's Sports Tourism initiative. Island hopping is high on the schedule of events listed.
Lowe said: "This year we are going to have some out island trips available for people who come to travel. We want them to go out and see the out islands, see what the rest of the islands are about. It is not only about Nassau, it is also about the out islands and the whole of The Bahamas.
"We had quite a few people who came in residents of the out islands last year to visit and be a part of speed week. So there is a little part of domestic tourism we might be able to touch as well. We look forward to advertising that in the out islands, and make sure that people are aware of the event taking place in Nassau."
Mr Wilchcombe congratulated Lowe and McLaughlin for making the dream a reality. He said that there is enormous potential for the country, from the event.
"I believe that your involvement of the vendors, Bahamian people, generally, is the right thing to do," he said. "If the people aren't involved then more than likely, you are not going to be as successful as you want to be. But the buzz is created when the people get involved and talk about what can become that event. Then the world will recognize The Bahamas.
"It is also true that we strongly support Sports Tourism. When the department was created several years ago, it was always intended to use our shores to promote sports. What we are seeing now is this great attraction over the next several weeks. We will be hearing more about major golf events, also our relationship with sporting organization whether it is basketball or professional football, or baseball. The whole idea is to ensure that The Bahamas is, at all times, recognized for the destination that offers you everything you want and fulfilling the dreams that you have. Speed week has an appeal, and I have told the Director General what we must do is contribute more to the marketing of it, to ensure that we are getting the coverage of it around the world. Promote what you are doing to make it that exciting event that we believe will draw people from around the world."
Speed week will kick-off with a concert at Arawak Cay and an Auto Trade Show on November 24. The Antique Auto Club Show and Miss Speed Week beauty pageant will be held on Sunday.
Avid golfers will delight in Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamasí exclusive new unlimited golf promotion, available for guests staying in a Butler room category for a minimum four-night stay. Qualified bookings will receive free unlimited rounds of golf at the Greg Norman-designed Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club now through October 27, 2011, for travel through October 31, 2012.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham yesterday signed an exigency order that will allow residents, businesses and hotel owners in Cat Island and Acklins who have been hard hit by Hurricane Irene to bring in certain goods duty free for up to six months.
Residents on Long Cay, Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Inagua and Ragged Island will also benefit from the order.
However, their duty exemption period will be 90 days, the government announced yesterday.
The tax exemption effort, which begins today, will likely impact hundreds of residents and businesses on those islands.
In order for the residents to qualify for the exemption, the minister of finance has to be satisfied that the goods are intended for the relief of residents in the islands mentioned who suffered hardship or loss as a result of Hurricane Irene, the statement said.
Duty free goods include building materials, electrical fixtures and materials, plumbing fixtures and materials, household furniture, and furnishing and appliances.
Also duty free are motor vehicles, motor cycles, and golf carts.
Claims or applications for the duty exemption of those products and goods must be certified by the director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Those in the farming industry whose crops or machinery were damaged can apply to bring in duty free items including supplies for reconstruction and repair to greenhouses, including plant sleeves, timers, plant pots and soil-less growth; supplies for the reconstruction and repair to poultry houses; supplies for the reconstruction and repair of irrigation systems; nursery stock for the re-establishment of fruit orchards; and items required for fencing.
Those in the fishing industry can apply to bring in goods including galvanized sheeting and other materials used in the construction of fishing habitats; fishing boats and fishing gear and apparatus.
The notice added that an individual located anywhere in The Bahamas who suffered hardship or loss to property as a result of Hurricane Irene may also apply for duty relief and will be certified by the appropriate official.
"Where any abuse or misuse of goods imported under this declaration is observed, the goods may be seized and disposed of in accordance with Section 83 of the Customs Management Act," the notice added.
REPORTS of alleged animal cruelty have sparked controversy within a small community in North Eleuthera.
Police have launched an investigation into claims that three young men on the island of Spanish Wells are torturing cats by tying them to golf carts and dragging them along until they are skinned alive.
A Bahamian-owned company is seeking local investors for the construction of a $10 million entertainment complex in western New Providence. With the design and leg-work complete, TFG Group is now in talks to interested parties to bring the 45,000-square-foot complex to fruition. TFG Group's subsidiary...
NASSAU, Bahamas ó A $10 million upscale dinner, cinema and entertainment venue is slated to open its doors in 3Q of 2014, with 200 to 300 jobs created following construction of the highly anticipated Encore center.
The first-of-its-kind contemporary center is expected to answer the calls of Bahamian residents long unsatisfied with the lack of diversity in social options around the country, said principals of the projectís development firm, TFG Company Ltd.
Duncan Town, Ragged Island -- A resurfaced airport runway, a dock and paved road are on the way for Ragged Island, and the 60 plus residents who live there are excited and looking forward to the new infrastructure.
Baha Mar has awarded a major contract to Woslee Construction Company Limited to build the golf course's 18,000-square-foot clubhouse. The facility, considered a centerpiece of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, will generate around 75 jobs and should reach completion in November of this year.