NASSAU, The Bahamas – During his remarks at the opening of the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit (CHICOS), on November 11, 2021, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said that he was happy to report that The Bahamas was on course to experience a rapid rebound in tourist arrivals to pre-pandemic levels, meaning that “we should soon recover our position as a premier destination for business and leisure travelers”.
“The climate for investment and tourism continues to improve every day,” he said, during the event held at Baha Mar.
“As many of you are well aware, fortunately, here in The Bahamas we have over time, and very deliberately, developed our tourism product, chiefly through a number of strategic partnerships.”
Among those present were Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation (MOTIA) the Hon. Chester Cooper; Minister of Economic Affairs Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis; Parliamentary Secretary of MOTIA John H.W. Pinder; Senator the Hon. Randy Rolle; Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu, and other senior government officials; CHICOS Chairman Parris Jordan and other board members; delegates and various tourism and investment stakeholders.
Prime Minister Davis noted that billions of dollars had been invested which means that The Bahamas’ diverse offering catered to a range of visitors and tastes.
“Some of the hotel complexes will already be familiar to you,” he said. This Baha Mar resort, which is our newest luxury resort destination, now offers three hotels that are marketed as ‘the richly refined Rosewood, the playfully hip SLS, [and] the stylish and modern Grand Hyatt’.
“Your stay here gives you first-hand access to its wide array of luxury amenities and exciting experiences; and plans are afoot to continue expansion in anticipation of the rebound of our economy.”
“One of our other flagship properties, Atlantis Paradise Island, offers products and services for family, business, sports and entertainment events, all of which have a meaningful connection with both our world-
famous beaches and seas, as well as with our rich Bahamian culture,” he added.
Prime Minister Davis said that the resorts’ new, immersive programmes connect guests to the history, art, people, food and festivities of The Bahamas. In many ways, he added, those two mega-properties
complemented each other.
“Less well-known to you might be some of the smaller properties in New Providence — such as Albany, the Island House, the Marriott, The One & Only Ocean Club, The Pointe, Sandals, and The Warwick,” he pointed out.
“Across our archipelago, the Family Island experiences take you closer to traditional island life, with each island boasting its unique characteristics and peoples.”
Prime Minister Davis said that his Government was encouraging the investor community to pursue further developments and economic growth in the Family Islands, with high-end boutique resorts, bed and breakfast establishments, fishing lodges and exclusive villas that will cater to those visitors seeking a more “island” way of life.
“Our plan for each island will focus on the island’s niche in the tourism market and promote its unique opportunities,” he said.
“We will amend the ‘Hotel Encouragement Act’, and, in the spirit of partnership, offer stronger incentives for international investors to partner with Bahamian-owned and joint-venture boutique hotels.”
“In conjunction with the ‘Residency by Investment’ programme, we are encouraging joint ventures with Bahamians on projects for sustained economic development,” he added. “Through ‘BahamasInvest’, we will
create the framework to expedite projects under this initiative.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, to facilitate visitors’ arrival and departure in The Bahamas, the Government had also invested in the primary gateway of the Lynden Pindling International Airport, which had become the most modern in the Caribbean.
“We are now considering projects that will upgrade the airport infrastructure throughout our islands so as to enhance the visitor experience and encourage direct international airlift,” he said.
“The Nassau Cruise Port is currently under construction and scheduled for completion by Summer 2022,” he added. “The project is transforming the Prince George Wharf into a modern, world-class destination and one of the great waterfronts of the world.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that, before COVID-19 pandemic, the Port of Nassau attracted 3.7 million passengers per year. With the opening of the new Cruise Port, he said, the government expected to surpass those numbers.
Prime Minister Davis said that, over the past summer, several cruise lines led the return of cruising to The Bahamas by introducing “home-porting” from New Providence and Bimini.
“This has heralded the return of the many cruise lines which originate in the United States, including Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Disney, MSC, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Virgin,” he said. “This demonstrates not just confidence in the fact that the pandemic is increasingly under control, but the return of confidence in The Bahamas as a premier cruise destination.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that he recently met with a number of world leaders at the Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, that was part of the ‘United Nations Conference on Climate Change Conference’ or COP26.
He said that he pointed out that The Bahamas was not responsible for the level of carbon emissions that had led to the impact of climate change that the country was experiencing.
“In fact a recent study declared that The Bahamas had the cleanest air in the world, while other studies have shown that our distinctive, beautiful, aquamarine seas reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“But we, like other Small Island Developing States are forced to pay the price.”
“I appealed to national leaders to take concrete and immediate action to prevent the rise in global temperatures which imperil countries like ours,” he added. “I issue the same call to you.
“Partner with us to invest in innovative, sustainable development projects. Be outstanding corporate citizens in what you do and how you do it.
Urgently take tangible steps to reduce your carbon footprint.” Prime Minister Davis said that his government was committed to doing what was necessary to ensure The Bahamas’ survival. He added that His government was refocusing development around the Sustainable Development Goals outlined in the Paris Agreement to which The Bahamas was a signatory.
“We invite you to partner with us in this,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“Together we can make a difference. Together we can make things better.” He said that his government was committed to taking all necessary steps to improve the ease of doing business, and to ensure that investment projects were no longer unnecessarily delayed by red tape.
“These enhancements will support a superior tourist model that harnesses our capacity for the development of culture, heritage, sports, religion, ecotourism, and medical tourism,” he said.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that his was a new government, determined to deliver on its promises and its mandate.
“Our country has a skilled professional workforce,” he said. “The Bahamas has a sound legal framework, modern infrastructure, and a wide range of incentive policies, all of which make investing in The Bahamas the wise choice for investors.
“Again, I thank you for choosing the Bahamas for your conference and wish you a wonderful stay in our beautiful country.”