Bimini businesses upbeat about ferry impact

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September 05, 2013

As thousands continue to flock to Bimini via the Resorts World Bimini SuperFast ferry, several business have reported that the island is "booming" as a result, Guardian Business understands.

Big John's Restaurant and Bar, located in Alice Town, is just one of those businesses that have seen a spike in profits since the cruise ship started servicing the island, according to its co-owner Kiko Llama.

In fact, he confirmed that his business, which accommodates approximately 60 people, has seen up to a 25 percent increase.

"We are already feeling the positive effects of the super fast ferry's presence here on the island. There has been an increase in tourist traffic," Llama said.

"Overall, business has increased on the island as a result when you look at the amount of people on the street and in the straw markets. The more people that come in, the more people will spend. Things have been great."

Fabian Stuart, the owner of Stuart's Conch Stand, said business has been "excellent", as his establishment has been serving up to 300 people on a daily basis.

"Since the fast ferry has been coming in from Miami, it has been great for us. In fact, business has been excellent, especially on the weekends," he said to Guardian Business.

"We have definitely seen an increase. Based on the price point, because it's cheaper now on the boat, I believe that more people will travel to Bimini and this will translate into more business for us. We serve between 150 and 200 people, sometimes 300 on a daily basis.

"Overall business has been great because passengers are able to travel around the island, making stops. As a result, the economy is doing well and employment on the island is high."

Since its inaugural voyage back in July, Michelle Malcolm, director of public affairs at Resorts World Bimini Bay, said the introduction of the Bimini SuperFast cruise ship has positively impacted the island's economy.

"The response has been phenomenal, not just for the resort as visitors explore the island, spending money on entertainment and souvenirs. It's difficult to find golf carts on the island and we have even found new businesses to be popping up as well," she told Guardian Business.

However, not everyone has expressed satisfaction with the state of affairs in Bimini, with some complaining that construction related to the ferry is not creating opportunities for Biminites and that a single company has been contracted to provide ground transportation and water sports for ferry visitors.

A coalition of Bimini stakeholders, the Bimini Blue Coalition, has also stated that locals have been kept in the dark about development plans.

Supporting the coalition, the Bahamas National Trust called on the government this week to release all documents relating to a proposed berthing facility for the ferry, which it is concerned could impact a sensitive ecological area.

This week tourism officials estimated that more than 30,000 have traveled to Bimini via the Resorts World Bimini SuperFast ferry in recent weeks and those numbers continue to grow. The cruise ship is expected to bring up to 400,000 passengers to Bimini on an annual basis.

That service is dedicated solely to transporting passengers between Bimini and Miami, Florida and was part of the Bimini Bay Resort's first phase, along with the construction of the Resorts World Casino.

The Resorts World/Genting Group and RAV Bahamas formed a joint venture to bring the casino and the ferry to the island.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe recently expressed confidence that this multimillion-dollar venture has translated into increased room nights and airlift.

The tourism minister recently announced that there would be daily flights to the island, including possible night flights.

Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian

News date : 09/05/2013    Category : Business, Nassau Guardian Stories

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