June 08, 2019
Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar said Thursday that the unprecedented increase in foreign visitors in 2018 led to at least $350 million of additional spending into the Bahamian economy over 2017.
Minister D’Aguilar said this was a “conservative estimate.” The Tourism and Aviation Minister said the spin-off benefits have left no doubt that there is more and more money circulating in the economy as a result of the “unprecedented increase in foreign visitors.”
“Mr. Speaker, that is good news for the Bahamian people. Very good news indeed!
Delivering his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget Debate, Minister D’Aguilar said: “the incredible numbers mean more employment opportunities and more money in their pockets at the end of the week for the average Bahamian.”
“With more and more foreign visitors coming to The Bahamas, each and every week, I have been approached by taxi drivers telling me to keep up the good work because they are busier than before, hotel workers are getting more in gratuities, restaurant workers are making more in tips, beach vendors, straw vendors -- there is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that there is more and more money circulating in the economy.”
Minister D’Aguilar told House Members that just over 10,000 new jobs have been created for Bahamians during the first 18 months of the Minnis Administration, due in part to the robustness of the country’s tourism sector.
“I am not in the least surprised, given the robustness of our Tourism sector,” Minister D’Aguilar said. “In short, Mr. Speaker, spending is up and employment is up. We are doing what the Bahamian people sent us here to do!”
Mr. D’Aguilar said when the Minnis administration took office in May 2017, there were 200,155 employed individuals in The Bahamas. Mr. D’Aguilar said at the last Labour Force Survey completed in November 2018, there were 210,560 employed individuals in The Bahamas.
Minister D’Aguilar sent a word of caution with regards to what he called: “the rumblings of industrial action coming from the hotel sector.”
“I implore both sides to negotiate in good faith. I implore both sides not to rush to judge or make any drastic moves that put our number one industry; the engine of our economy; the contributor of over 50 percent of our GDP; the largest employers of Bahamians outside of the government; the source of income for many, many Bahamians who do not work in hotels such as taxi drivers, straw vendors, beach vendors, excursion operators -- talk to one another, tone down this strong rhetoric, act responsibly because our entire country is relying on both sides to get this right!
“I hear a lot of harsh words but I am dismayed that there has been little or no negotiations. That is not good! Negotiations must be exhausted before we even start talking about the nuclear options! I will say no more on this other than I am available to both sides to help where I can to bring this to an amicable compromise.”
By Matt Maura