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Southern islands such as Cat Island, Crooked Island, Acklins and Inagua continue to struggle with getting their economies on track, according to the director general at the Ministry of Tourism.
David Johnson shared with Guardian Business that smaller hotels located in the southeastern part of the country have distribution issues. In an effort to generate more business into these properties, the Ministry of Tourism, in conjunction with the Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board, is looking to start a fund that will enable smaller hotels to have a more effective distribution system.
"The fund won't have much more than $30,000 to provide the technical support, as we look to get them into the digital realm with their bookings. That's what we are talking about. We have agreed in principle, but we are looking to execute this soon. This is really for the smaller hotels within the Family Islands, and most of them are in the southeast," he noted.
Johnson believes initiatives like these will help to improve their marketing strategies.
Other issues, he added, include insufficient and expensive airlift to these islands.
"With these rebate programs that we're offering, we are looking to make an adjustment because airfares are even more expensive than the other islands. These adjustments need to be made, so they are able to be more competitive. We are reviewing how we can make an adjustment and hope to reach an agreement on that very shortly."
According to Charity Armbrister, tourism's director of central and southern Bahamas, these islands are still struggling mostly due to airlift. Until that issue is resolved, Armbrister said it will be difficult for them to reach their potential.
"For example, we have persons coming in from the UK and the connecting flights are just not there, so they have to overnight in Nassau, which is really not what they want. They are coming to the islands and they want to get there as quickly as possible in the most inexpensive way. Airlift is on top of the ministry's agenda," she explained.
"The booking engine is key to addressing this issue. When visitors go online, they book a flight into The Bahamas. Then they say they need to connect, and there is no real global booking engine. So they don't get to see the Pineapple Air, Western Air or the Southern Air. Unless there is a code share with Bahamasair or something like that, the visitors just don't know about it and so it makes it very complicated. We are hoping to see an improvement in that area in 90 days."
Meanwhile, Armbrister further revealed that most islands have seen an increase over the last year in room nights, which is encouraging:
"I would say Harbour Island, Exuma and Eleuthera are the strongest islands. Long Island has shown one of the largest increases, like maybe 20 percent. That's really encouraging.
Most of the islands have seen an increase over last year in room nights, so we are very excited about that. We are hoping that we can get back to 2008/2009 when things were much better. With the Two Fly Free and these kinds of incentives, we think we are going to make it happen sometime soon."
Two new races were added to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, making it one of the biggest sailing events to be held in New Providence.
The E-class and sculling races are expected to be very entertaining, as hundreds of Bahamians are expected to come out to the regatta over the two-day sailing weekend.
The 'Catch Me If You Can' race is once again the headliner. That race will occur on the Sunday of the regatta, February 17. Skippers in the other classes will set sail on Saturday, February 16. The 26th annual event is set for that weekend at Montagu Bay.
Some of the sloops in the A-class chasing behind the Lady Nathalie this year will be the Southern Cross, the Courageous, the Red Stripe and the Palm Cay Princess.
Owner of the Lady Nathalie Eleazor 'Barber J' Johnson dared the other boat owners to "step up to the plate" and accept the challenge. He is confident that his prized possession, named after his mother, will sail on to victory and keep the winning streak alive. The Lady Nathalie will be sailed by Clyde Rolle.
"Thank God for saving my life, it was a hard road and I traveled the distance to reach the top," Johnson said. "I must thank all the sponsors, the committee members and persons who assisted me and who are always around me. The regatta time is a special event. It's like Christmas. I must say that we went way back from when it first started. We went from 1987 to 2013. That's how long this race has been going on, non-stop, and I must thank all the sponsors who helped. Mr. Sands helped me with the Lady Nathalie. He was there when the Lady Nathalie was built and he is still by my side. He has a true love for The Bahamas."
Young skippers will have an opportunity to show off their skills that weekend too, while veteran skippers will captain the E-class sloops sponsored by the Bahamian Brewery Ltd. The fleet of boats under the Sands umbrella sailing in the E-class are Sands Lite, Strong Back and High Rock.
Sir Durward Knowles will sponsor the 'Champion of Champions' award which will be presented to the winner of the C-class. Other sponsors this year are Coca-Cola, Aquapure, the Atlantis Resort, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Bristol Cellars.
"We are very pleased to be involved again with Eleazor Johnson known as the 'Sailing Barber'," said Berkley Williamson, general manager at the Bahamian Brewery Company.
"After 26 years, it is proof that he is very stable and that he wants the best for sailing. Our company, Sands Beer, is a young company but nevertheless we are privileged to be involved in an event that has been around for such a long time. We are happy to sponsor the E-class, the world's famous sculling boats like Sands Lite, High Rock and Strong Back. That race and the others are going to be very exciting. As a truly Bahamian company owned by Bahamians, we are so happy to be involved in this sport, because it is so indigenous."
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre will allow skippers to test their sloops, preparing for the 60th National Family Island Regatta in George Town, Exuma, from April 23-27, 2013.
The Campari Lady Nathalie is back... literally!
According to boat owner Eleazor 'Barber J' Johnson, the popular B-Class sloop has re-united with Burns House and the Campari brand, and will enjoy its support and sponsorship for the rest of the year. The sloop has been known as the Campari Lady Nathalie for much of the past two decades, but that partnership was terminated in 2008, and the two entities went their separate ways. With Johnson's Silver Jubilee St. Valentine's Day Massacre set for next year, he said that a better time couldn't have been picked for the two sides to come together again.
"I feel wonderful. It's great to have them back on board but really and truly, our relationship was never stained," said Johnson. "We always stayed in contact and there was always the possibility of them coming back and supporting the Lady Nathalie. Knowing that the 25th Annual St. Valentine's Day Massacre is right around the corner, it's good to know that they are back supporting me. Nathalie is a champion boat and Campari is a champion brand. She is simply legendary, and it's only right that two champions would come together and promote sailing in the country. I see great things happening in the future for the Campari Lady Nathalie," he added.
The Lady Nathalie was sponsored by the Campari brand from 1990-2008. During that time, Johnson's prized B-Class possession has won numerous sailing titles in the country. It has won in Abaco, Acklins, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Grand Bahama, North Eleuthera, and of course here in New Providence. However, the sloop has never won the National Family Island Regatta in Georgetown, Exuma nor in Salt Pond, Long Island. The Lady Nathalie finished third overall in picturesque Elizabeth's Harbour in Georgetown this year, and the Long Island regatta is set for this Labour Day Holiday weekend. However, the Lady Nathalie won't be participating in Salt Pond this weekend.
"I never won in Georgetown nor Long Island but the Lady Nathalie is always up there," said Johnson. "I've beaten all the top B-Class sloops except for Buzzy Rolle. He has a fast boat and Nathalie is also fast so it is really just a matter of time, and now with Campari and the Lady Nathalie back together, great things are lying ahead," he added.
So far, Johnson's Lady Nathalie is having a great year. In addition to finishing third overall in Georgetown, the Lady Nathalie won all three series races of the All-for-Regatta with Clyde Rolle at the tiller, and then won the 'Catch Me If You Can' race at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Johnson is expecting a good summer for his sloop, and for it to finish the year strong, thereby ensuring that Burns House and the Campari brand stay on board for next year as well.
It appears as if Opposition Leader Perry G. Christie is unmoved by the sudden resignation of Craig Butler from the Progressive Liberal Party. Christie stated that people are always leaving the PLP. He also stated, however, that people are always joining his party. Mr. Christie also added that he wishes Mr. Butler all the best in his future endeavors.
Christie said this much about Craig Butler during a PLP rally that was held at their headquarters Gambier House on June 1st. Mr. Butler is the grandson of Sir Milo Butler, the first Bahamian governor general. He was also the treasurer of the PLP. It appears that Mr. Butler's family connection was not enough to help him get the nomination for the PLP.
Mr. Butler has on numerous occasions expressed an interest in running as a candidate for the PLP. In fact, just last year after the resignation of Elizabeth MP Malcolm Adderley from the House of Assembly, Mr. Butler, along with Ryan Pinder, both vied to get the PLP nomination for that constituency. The nomination was given to Mr. Pinder.
He was favored by Mr. Christie to run in the 2010 bye-election in Elizabeth. However, Mr. Christie, before he had made his final decision on who would run in Elizabeth, sounded as if Mr. Butler had a fighting chance to gain the nomination.
Nevertheless, despite what could only be described as a major disappointment in being rejected by the PLP in Elizabeth, Mr. Butler remained a loyal PLP supporter. Mr. Butler then turned his attention to the Kennedy constituency.
That constituency is represented by FNM MP Kenyatta Gibson. Gibson had defected from the PLP in 2008. I understand that Mr. Butler had been canvassing the Kennedy area, with the hope of galvanizing support from PLP supporters.
Many of the PLP supporters in Kennedy were interested in Mr. Butler and his message. It appears as if Mr. Butler really believed that he would be given the PLP nomination for Kennedy. According to some political observers, it appears as if Butler was given this impression by the leaders of that party. This would explain why he was so disillusioned with the PLP and resigned after he was once again rejected by the party.
According to the press, one Dion Smith has been given the nomination to run for the PLP in Kennedy. It is obvious to myself that Mr. Butler was really disappointed at being overlooked again by the PLP. According to the press, Butler was denied a nomination because of his past drug addiction.
Butler has admitted that he once struggled with drug addition. Yet he is quick to add, however, that he has truly reformed. Christie, however, appears not to be impressed with Mr. Butler. Perhaps the opposition leader feels that Butler's past indiscretions would turn off too many voters from the PLP.
Mr. Christie obviously wants to present to the Bahamian electorate a slate of candidates that are squeaky clean. Therefore, it is understandable why Mr Christie is unwilling to accept Butler's nomination. But with that being said, why has Mr. Christie refused to heed the warning of Raynard Rigby, Philip Galanis and George Smith?
These three prominent PLPs had warned Christie not to accept the nominations of Obie Wilchcombe (West End and Bimini), V. Alfred Gray (MICAL), Shane Gibson (Golden Gates), Leslie Miller, Picewell Forbes (South Andros), Anthony Moss (Exuma) and Vincent Peet (North Andros), for the upcoming general election. Most of these gentlemen listed above have also had their share of issues. In fact, several of them, including Keod Smith, Kenyatta Gibson and Sidney Stubbs, had caused the PLP to lose the 2007 general election.
Mr. Christie obviously intends to run these men in the general election. He had written a letter to a prominent tabloid newspaper stating the reason why he had rejected the suggestions of Rigby and co.
Question: If the leader of the opposition is hell-bent on running these candidates, who have also made their share of mistakes, why is Mr. Christie unwilling to do the same for Craig Butler?
If Mr. Christie is willing to overlook the alleged indiscretions of these men, why not do the same for Butler? After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If he is determined to reject Mr. Butler's nomination because of his past, then he should do the same thing to his MPs, who were mentioned in that famous letter that was leaked to the press!
Further, the incident with Craig Butler is similar to an incident that had occurred almost ten years ago in Marco City. The Rev. Frederick MacAlpine was a PLP supporter who himself was given the impression that he would be given the PLP nomination for Marco City to run in the 2002 general election. I live in Marco City. I remember the Rev. MacAlpine sending us letters and holding functions in Marco City. I thought that he would be running in Marco City for the PLP. However, Miss Pleasant Bridgewater was given the nomination instead.
The Rev. MacAlpine felt slighted by Mr. Christie and the PLP. Therefore, he, like Butler, eventually left the party. It appears as if Mr. Christie and his party have a penchant for leading people on.
These men had obviously spent a lot of money and time in these constituencies, only to be told at the eleventh hour that they won't be receiving any nomination from the PLP. If this is what was done to Mr. Butler, then Christie and the other leaders of the PLP should at least apologize to him for wasting his time.
Why tell a man that he has a good chance of securing a nomination, when you have already made up in your mind to run someone else? This is one reason why I find it difficult to support Mr. Christie.
Mr. Christie needs to understand that you just can't treat people like impersonal objects. People are to be treated with dignity and respect. I believe that Christie dealt Craig Butler a very bad hand in this case!
Twenty proud security personnel representing 17 airports in 13 Family Islands received Train the Trainer certification at the closing ceremony of the five-day “Excellence in Screening Techniques Course,” held January 21-25 at the SuperClubs Breezes Resort.