The tourism and hospitality industry has the potential to create self-employment opportunities for those Bahamians with an entrepreneurial mindset, Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar said. “Beach and sea are our destination’s strongest selling points, so any business that is beach or sea-based is guaranteed to be successful, with good management, of course,” Minister D’Aguilar said.
Addressing educators attending the 16th Education Industry Internship Programme, hosted by the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) at Choices Restaurant, University of The Bahamas, Mr. D’Aguilar outlined a myriad of business/economic/entrepreneurial opportunities open to Bahamians in the tourism and hospitality sectors. The Industry Internship Programme is a partnership between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Tourism, the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association and the University of The Bahamas and was designed to provide educators with hands-on experience in the tourism industry in an effort to enhance classroom delivery. Minister D’Aguilar said 6.6 million tourists visit the islands of The Bahamas annually. He said the numbers present so many layers of operations and opportunities involved in accommodating those guests.
“We have to welcome them, transport them, lodge them, engage them in fun, memorable activities, rejuvenate them, provide retail opportunities for them, and the list goes on,” Minister D’Aguilar said.
Minister D’Aguilar said additional business opportunities available for Bahamian entrepreneurs range from adventure tours with a thrill to the wellness industry, island-hopping excursions, authentic souvenirs, culinary tourism, business opportunities linked to agriculture and fisheries – particularly as it relates to organic products, and family entertainment, among others. “Visitors tend to travel with their families meaning that we need more businesses catering to family entertainment,” Minister D’Aguilar said. “What is there for visitors to do when it rains? Emerging entrepreneurs, put on your thinking caps. Visitors want mementos to show their friends that they’ve been to The Bahamas, but not just any kind of mementos, they want high quality, superbly crafted, authentic souvenirs. The raw materials for authentic souvenirs are all around us, in our environment.
“Adventure tours with a thrill, tapping into the wellness market, bird-watching, heritage tourism are all business ideas with lots of potential. Then there is Volunteer tourism. There are a lot of conscientious travelers who want to give back to the community in the host countries they travel to. Imagine developing a vacation package that combines touristic activities and volunteer work with a charitable organization or an agency that focuses on caring for the environment.” Minister D’Aguilar said Culinary Tourism is another area “ripe” with potential.
“Ask Goombay House and any of the local tours that have integrated food tasting. We need to feed the hundreds of thousands of guests who stay in our resorts, hotels and guesthouses. Today’s travelers have a definite preference for food made from organic produce. At this moment, we are importing close to 100 percent of the food consumed in the country. The field of agriculture and fisheries is wide open for development. So is landscaping. One of the strengths of our destination is that we have multiple islands. An excursion that offers guests the opportunity to island hopis a winning business idea.”
Minister D’Aguilar said another development that bodes well for the future of global tourism is the change in mindset of today’s traveller — comprised in growing numbers of the under-40 age set, the millennials – who view travel as a right, not a luxury. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, international travelers will total 1.8 billion by the year 2030. “That means that one in five persons in the world is on the move, traveling around the globe. More people today are traveling for leisure than at any time in the history of mankind.”
“Come what may, they will travel.”