March 23, 2012
The creation of a series of cottage industries on Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador, the diversification of the tourism product on those islands, and the embracing of each island's unique culture and characteristics, are just some of the immediate areas of focus that the Free National Movement's (FNM) candidate for Rum Cay, Cat Island and San Salvador Michael Pintard said could assist in boosting the economies of those islands. In this week's edition of My Ten Cents, Pintard spoke candidly about his plans for these islands, beginning with Cat Island, which he dubbed the 'cradle of culture'. "Hosting additional festivals will increase the amount of Bahamians and tourists coming in. Then you could begin to brand the island as a place filled with culture. The cultural activities can also feed the historic and culturally significant sites located on the island," Pintard revealed. "On Cat Island, there is no shortage of caves. The highest point in the country is in New Bight, Mt. Alvernia. You have the opportunity to brand the island. There are old plantation houses that still exist on the island. They simply need to be cleaned up or refurbished, so that there can be a living museum on the island." He believes this can also be done on the islands of Rum Cay and Salvador. Pintard explained that embracing these islands' cultures could lead to a stronger tourism product, if residents tap into other tourism sub-sectors such as religious, sports and education-based tourism. "Many of the country's religious leaders hail from these islands. We need to encourage them to host their conventions and other major events on Rum Cay, Cat Island and San Salvador," he noted. "Sports tourism is also an option in these islands. We need to begin to attract greater traffic to the island." Pintard continued, "There are 60,000 students in the country's school system. We can tap into that by having these students visit these islands on field trips. We need to build a deliberate program that will attract these students where they will have an opportunity to learn about the social history, the islands' geography and culture. This is another way that you can increase traffic into those islands." The FNM senator pointed out this would begin to affect other areas such as airfare because if there is a demand for travel to an island, someone will have to supply it. "Airlines are in the business to make money, so if they a see a reasonable demand to make money that will justify their cost and scheduling, and then they will pursue it. The same is true about the mail boats. These are things that I believe we need to explore further," he added. Pintard revealed to Guardian Business that plans are in the works to create a processing plant on Cat Island. "Already in these islands, there is the tradition of bottling foods like tomatoes. However, the difficulty has been getting those items to be produced in sufficient quantities that can supply food stores, hotels and restaurants," Pintard said. "Food technologists have recently relocated to the island to oversee the project, and are driving this thrust towards food processing. This can be used as a way of branding Cat Island and San Salvador as a place for production." Pintard noted that the goal is to meet the islands' local demand, but also to export these items elsewhere in The Bahamas and overseas. He believes that the same could be done for fisheries and seafood products as well. "There are various cottage industries that we are able to set up in the shortest possible time in order to help transform these economies," Pintard added. "There is no shortage of marine products that are underutilized in these three islands, that make up this constituency. It is a matter of empowering residents on these islands to create their own enterprises."
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