From: Bahamas Information Services
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investments the Hon. Chester Cooper today, November 1, delivered his Contribution to the Resolution in the House of Assembly to Thank the Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A.
Smith for the Speech from the Throne, which he read, as is customary, at the Opening of Parliament, October 6, 2021.
The Speech from the Throne stated, “My Government will return tourism to pre-COVID levels by harnessing existing markets,” Deputy Prime Minister Cooper quoted from the document. In his Contribution, as Tourism minister, he spoke to the aims and objectives for Tourism that were mentioned in the Speech. Minister Cooper noted he has also been given carriage over investments and the aviation sector – “two key areas that will grow our tourism product back to 2019 levels and beyond, and drive the development of our Islands.”
He remained resolute that the best and fastest way to grow the economy is through Foreign Direct Investment and the active mobilizing of sustainable Bahamian Investments.
“If there was any doubt about tourism’s importance to our economy, we need only search our recent memory as to how quickly things went south when international travel evaporated. “But I am of the view that we need to deepen our investment in the tourism sector. It is unquestionably where we have our comparative advantage as a country and that, I am confident, will continue to be the case during our lifetime.
“Despite the shutdown of much of economy for the better part of a year, we do see that our tourism product remains resilient.” The Speech from the Throne also spoke to tourism returning to pre-COVID levels by harnessing existing markets.
“I can report that our tourism numbers have been on an upward trajectory since November/December 2020, when the COVID-19 protocols and requirements for international travelers were finally stabilized,” the minister said.
“We have since eliminated the fee for Bahamian citizens and residents. So you don’t need to pay to enter your own country. We have also completely abolished the health travel visa for inter-island travel. We have implemented a testing regimen, which will ease the burden of those traveling from the Family Islands.”
The minister also revealed that the outlook for air travel from key source markets for October to December has improved significantly, with bookings over the period trailing the same period in 2019, by just 10 percent, buoyed by the positive outlook for US travelers.
“We plan to aggressively grow stopover tourism arrivals, continually engaging new source markets, and inspiring visitors to return to The Bahamas again and again,” he said. Meanwhile, the country will continue to ensure the identification and adoption of relevant health and safety protocols and requirements, to protect both visitors and workers, in the tourism industry, he added.
The Speech from the Throne states, “Our government will amend the Hotels Encouragement Act to provide better incentives for Bahamian-
owned and joint venture boutique hotels and related tourism offerings. To this, the minister said that the Davis Administration would encourage tourism product diversification and supports the integration of local suppliers of related products and services into the tourism industry.
“Further, our administration will support economic diversification through tourism and encourage improved Bahamian participation in tourism supply chain and tourism ownership,” he said. The Speech from The Throne also addresses Public Private Partnerships to redevelop all major airports across the islands, restructuring of the National Flag Carrier Bahamasair, Nassau Flight Services, and streamline processes for Foreign Direct Investment and Domestic Investments.