A groundbreaking strategic alliance has been formally entered into as a result of an initiative of the Tourism Development Corporation. Recently, Ministers D’Aguilar and Pintard joined forces and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch a new initiative and seat the Agritourism Committee to engender a viable and visible linkage with local farmers and fishermen with the hospitality industry Patterned on Agritourism successes achieved in Eastern Caribbean countries like Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua and Jamaica that have integrally partnered with their tourism sectors and realized benefits for their local economies, the Agritourism Committee will be co-chaired by Mark Humes, M.P. and Chairman of Bahamas Agricultural Health & Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA) and Janet Johnson, CEO/Executive Director of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC). The Chairs will invite key stakeholders and technical organizations, including the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association, together with agricultural entities such as IICA and CARDI to participate.
Even though the proposed agritourism initiative was in the works, being advanced by both Ministers respectively, the COVID-19 pandemic was really the catalyst that propelled this much-needed strategic alliance along. Vital tourism linkages took on greater significance as Bahamian farmers and fisher entrepreneurs, experienced the devastating effects of the public health crisis. An urgent demand study was commissioned and 70 crops were identified for local farmers to supply the tourism industry and local grocers. The Ministry of Agriculture enhanced its operation to support this important undertaking by putting in place the infrastructure including a cadre of newly hired extension officers with expertise to direct the process.
Eco-conscious restaurants, while observing the local regulations regarding seasonal fish, conch and lobster and sizes are celebrated by the conscious traveler who applauds sustainability practices and are eager to recommend such establishments. “It is imperative that we foster the linkages with other sectors of our economy in order to ensure that there is direct trickle down from Tourism into the hands of Bahamians,” said Minister D’Aguilar. “Agritourism as a vehicle to elevate our farmer entrepreneurs and to give them opportunities to benefit from a much bigger market with regular income to sustain and improve the quality of their livelihoods. I envisioned Chefs making use of the locally sourced jams, jellies and pepper sauces in their recipes and visitors being able to purchase the items in the hotel gift shops and/or online as souvenir reminders of their visit.”