The Director of the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) has challenged the Grand Bahama community to work together for a brand-new and improved island. Betty Bethel addressed the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) members at their monthly business meeting at the Pelican Bay Hotel on Wednesday.
Bethel referred also, with emphasis to the number of rooms that are still missing from the inventory after Hurricane Matthew.
“Some 482 rooms at Memories and 545 rooms at the Breaker’s Cay section of the Grand Lucayan Beach Resort are presently off the inventory. Together this gives a 1,027 shortfall of inventory, which is approximately 40 percent,” Bethel noted, while following up by pointing out what availability there is of rooms.
“Lighthouse Pointe has 198 rooms on their inventory and are experiencing sold-out dates. Castaways having completed their repairs, have 118 rooms. There are 198 rooms at Island Seas, 70 at Old Bahama Bay, 65 at Ocean Reef, 32 at Blue Marlin Cove in the West and 31 rooms at Bell Channel Inn,” Bethel informed. She noted that there are positive advancements, inclusive of upgrades to Viva Fortuna and Pelican Bay.
However, the decline in rooms, Bethel said, has seriously impacted the airlift to the destination with the bulk of the winter programs from Canada and the U.S. East coast gateways having to stop their routes. To the positive, Bethel disclosed that the charter out of Italy would resume in May and carry on until September, the island’s normally slow season.
The GB tourism chief touted the tourist attractions and said all on the island “are up and running and contrary to the myth that is banded around, where it is said the island has nothing for tourists to take part in, there are 40 different tours.”
The MOT director then announced that the benchmark figures of rooms and arrivals being worked towards are 4,000 rooms and 300,000 air arrivals that the island once experienced.
Bethel acknowledged that plenty has to be done before the economy is back to the state it was in back in the early 2000s.
“We have an opportunity to return to the industry sustaining practices, however we must be prepared to compete and win business, while delivering a satisfying destination experience. A clean-up is needed – our island is dirty. If I am honest, it was dirty before October 6. We need to remove the garbage, paint and repair buildings, replace the street signage and directions. The MOT has met with the GB Port Authority, Environmental Health and Sanitation to discuss a clean-up partnership, and now an aggressive plan ‘Litter Free’ has been put in place to address post- hurricane untidiness,” said Bethel.
She spoke also about another way to improve the economy, by encouraging second home-buyers. Bethel lamented Grand Bahama’s lack of live entertainment and nightlife.
The MOT director said that the idea is not just to recover from Hurricane Matthew but to propel the island forward.
“The MOT is designing a new marketing position that concentrates on bringing an awareness of the tourism product, highlighting nature, faith and culture and she divulged events that have been arranged to heighten the tourism aspects she focused on.
The upcoming MOT events include: Mar 23-25: Faith Fest; Apr 17: Annual Pelican Point Coconut Festival; Apr 20-23: Extreme Kayak Fishing Tournament: Apr 22-23: West End International Boat Races; Apr 28-29: Grand Bahama Junkanoo Carnival Kick-off; May 13-14: Youth Rugby Festival; May 19-20: Annual Grand Bahama Air Show; Jun 17: Annual West End Snapper Tournament & Festival; Jul: Weekly Goombay Summer Festival (Thursdays); Aug: Weekly Junkanoo Summer Festival (Weekends in West Grand Bahama); Oct 9: 48th Annual McLean's Town Conch Cracking Festival; Nov 4: 13th Annual NCAA Women's Junkanoo Jam and the Second Annual Edward St. George Memorial Invitational Golf Tournament.
Published Friday, March 24, 2017