NASSAU, The Bahamas – A total of $2.5 billion in investments, infrastructural upgrades to Family Island airports, and increase in visitor arrivals were outlined by the Hon. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation in his 2022-23 Budget presentation.
He made contribution to the debate in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
“In terms of investment, which goes hand-in-hand with tourism, we have already restructured the National Economic Council. This has already reaped significant results,” he said.
The deputy prime minister also revealed that the transformation of the Bahamas Investment Authority has begun, and the finished product will be called InvestBahamas. It will be launched in September 2022.
“I want the Bahamian people to remember that this Budget is about relief, but it also about growth. It’s about economic growth. It’s about inspiring confidence and renewing optimism.
“Growing our economy, growing tourism, growing investments, growing aviation and growing revenues so that we can meet our commitments and brace ourselves for future shocks and future possibilities,” he said.
The cruise market is also a critical focus for the ministry, the deputy prime minister said.
“When the new cruise port in Nassau is complete, we will be able to host six of the world’s largest ships at a time at a world-class port,” he added.
According to the deputy prime minister, more than $300 million in upgrades are on tap, and will be completed by the end of December 2022.
“I have been very candid on how we want to drive the redevelopment of Downtown Nassau, so that it can become one of the best destination attractions in the region. We hope that this improvement can be contagious,” he said.
The deputy prime minister reported that between January to April 2022, 51.4 percent of visitors from all regions were repeat visitors. And, during the first four months of the year, 69.5 percent of all stopover visitors came to The Bahamas primarily for a vacation, with 13.2 percent coming for weddings and honeymoons, and 3.8 percent for business.
Regarding Grand Bahama, the deputy prime minister outlined projects aimed at revitalizing that economy. Namely, the sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort, the development of Carnival Cruise Port, the revitalization of Port Lucaya Market Place & Marina, a new Grand Bahama International Airport with returned Pre-Clearance, significant airlift by Bahamasair, WesternAir and other airline partners, and the sale of abandoned projects through Tourism’s “Shovel-Ready Initiative” to include Ginn Sur Mer, Harcourt Properties, the International Bazaar and Xanadu.
“These initiatives will mean a significant number of tourist arrivals there and change the economic prospects for Grand Bahama for many years,” the deputy prime minister said.
He added, “The jobs and tourism receipts will have knock-on effects in countless ways in the coming years. In our minds, we really are just getting started with Grand Bahama.”
The deputy prime minister shared that the plan is to continue to attract big investors to Grand Bahama, some of which are already in the pipeline.
“The $500m investment in the GB Shipyard and the sale of Equinor will bring significant boost to the industrial sectors,” he said. “We will fast track these out of the pipeline as well.”
Regarding Family Islands, he confirmed that new airports will be built in Exuma (including a 5,000-foot runway at Black Point), North Eleuthera, at Deadman’s Cay, Long Island and New Bight, Cat Island.
“All of these airports will be facilitated through Public-Private Partnerships,” he said.