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Community : Service Organizations : GB Chamber of Commerce Last Updated: Mar 24, 2017 - 11:36:05 PM


Tourism director charges Grand Bahama residents to make tourism their business
By Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce (GBCC)
Mar 24, 2017 - 3:57:07 AM

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Ministry of Tourism Director Betty Bethel charged the business leaders to make a personal investment in improving the island's tourism product. (Photo: Keen i Media Ltd).

Freeport, The Bahamas  - In an address to the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Ministry of Tourism Director Betty Bethel asserted that Grand Bahama's future ultimately rests in the hands of both public and private stakeholders. Bethel served as guest speaker for the GB Chamber's March business luncheon at The Pelican Bay Hotel, where she stressed the need for community participation in returning the island to its glory days.

"If we want Grand Bahama to succeed, we must be participants in the process," Bethel said. "We must form alliances and partnerships and engage out-of-the-box thinking to plan and execute innovative activities and programmes that will lift the destination and get Grand Bahama noticed in the market again."

The tourism director acknowledged Hurricane Matthew's adverse impact on the island's tourism product - notably the closure of Memories Grand Bahama Beach Resort and the Grand Lucayan Resort's Breaker's Cay tower - but noted that the storm also presented stakeholders with a unique opportunity to reinstate the "industry-sustaining practices" that once secured Grand Bahama as a premier destination.

Bethel suggested that specific measures could be taken to improve the experience for residents and visitors to the island, among them were beautification of the island's landscapes and infrastructure, a renewed focus on live Bahamian entertainment, and an introduction of creative tourism products.

She charged the business leaders to become the local investors that bring exciting, non-traditional experiences to life for the enjoyment of guests and natives.
 
Emphasising that tourism is everyone's business, Bethel said the Ministry of Tourism is doing its part to meet with key stakeholders to develop programmes geared toward improving the island's appearance and its tourism product. Noting that is it paramount that Grand Bahama be able to capitalise on its proximity to America, she said a major concern has been revising turnaround costs at the Grand Bahama International Airport.

"Grand Bahama's airport turnaround costs remain a concern and must be addressed," Bethel said. "We believe it should be addressed jointly by public and private sector arrangements, outlining clear and realistic objectives that speak to the destination's position and the goals that are in sync with the country."
 
Bethel said the journey to reviving Grand Bahama's weakened tourism status will be a challenging one, but encouraged Chamber members to look toward the future with optimism and determination.

"We have no choice but to take our island into our own hands," she said. "Tourisms demise or revival will depend on the decisions we make or actions we take today. There can be no quick fixes, band aids, shoddy repair works or hit or miss solutions. We must move toward sustainable fixes."

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