More than $1 Billion in Investments Approved, says Tourism Minister

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper making his contribution to the Midyear Budget Debate in the House of Assembly on Thursday, March 17, 2022. (BIS Photo/Kemuel Stubbs)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper stated that more than $1billion in investments have been approved for the expansion of the Bahamian economy. This he revealed during his contribution to the Midyear Budget Debate in the House of Assembly on Thursday, March 17, 2022.

“We have already begun the work of transforming the Bahamas Investment Authority and have already revised the National Economic
Council.

“This has allowed us to approve numerous new investments that will impact the economy in the short to medium term,” the deputy prime minister said. “The billion dollar investment, with $500 million approved for Exuma alone.” He noted that one of the keys to increasing Bahamian ownership and wealth is to deepen the stake in the tourism sector at all levels.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Development Corporation will provide support for tourism entrepreneurs that will strengthen their economic viability and grow the Bahamian economy.

“We believe that the TDC should serve as a lifeline to tourism entrepreneurs,” the deputy prime minister said. “We are moving methodically and diligently to restore our economy and bring about relief for the Bahamian people. We intend to balance the work of the legislature with the work of the executive and fulfill our commitments.”

He also shared what this administration is accomplishing in tourism, investments and aviation. And, he also touched on developments ongoing on Grand Bahama. Recently, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, after consultation with the Tourism ministry and industry stakeholders, dropped the requirements for masks in hotel lobbies, corridors, casinos, and outdoors given social distancing of three feet between people not of the same household. And in recent days, the US has dropped the travel advisory for The Bahamas to a level three.

“This year, we have seen more resorts fully open, such as the beautifully renovated Sandals Royal Bahamian and Margaritaville and The Pointe,” he said. “What is undeniable is that we have turned a corner in the pandemic and we have turned a corner in the return of tourism to our shores.”

In 2019, the country experienced a record year in tourism arrivals with over seven million visitors. Also, the following year, there was a decline of 75 percent, with 1.75 million stopover and cruise visitors combined. Last year saw a return to more robust numbers, with more resorts coming back on stream and cruise ships seeing a return to more robust passenger numbers.

According to the deputy prime minister, the United Nations World Tourism Organization was right in that the Caribbean continues to lead tourism’s rebound in the world, and The Bahamas is leading the rebound in the region.

“This has not been an easy time for the industry,” he said. “Health officials and tourism officials have worked diligently to strike a balance between generating more money in the economy and keeping the health and safety of our residents and visitors paramount in our minds. Thanks to the Ministry of Health officials for their diligence and collaboration.”

The deputy prime minister said one of these successes is the return of regattas,

starting with the National Family Island Regatta in Exuma from April 20-23, 2022, in beautiful Elizabeth Harbour. “It is a much-welcomed development that will help return a sector of our tourism business that is a popular signature of our Family Islands.

He also mentioned the more than $130 million invested to date in Nassau Cruise Port,

with all the berthing work at the port is due to be complete before the summer, the rest of the major work and the superstructure is expected to be completed by December 31, 2022 sparking the redevelopment of Downtown Nassau and vicinity. Regarding the National Flag Carrier Bahamasair, he revealed that the Board has been mandated to review its best practice and present a strategic plan that will not only improve efficiencies but will strengthen its role in improving tourism airlift and getting heads in beds.

“While we are discussing the aviation sector, we are making progress in terms of our overall International Civil Aviation Organization validation,” the deputy prime minister said.