The Bahamas Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, recently attended the 60th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) which made a big splash in support of The Bahamas, and which proved to be an amazing opportunity for the Minister and The Islands Of The Bahamas.
Dubbed FLIBS-4-Bahamas (#FLIBS4Bahamas), the United States Boat Shows at Informa Markets and the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, organizers of the 2019 FLIBS, selected The Bahamas as its exclusively featured vacation destination during the show, which ran October 30 through November 3, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale. In addition, they organized several fund-raising initiatives, where proceeds were earmarked for aid to residents in Abaco impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
“We feel it is our duty and a privilege to support our friends and neighbors, and we are committed to Grand Bahama and the Abacos’ full recovery. In addition to helping raise funds, we endeavor to get the word out that The Bahamas is still open for tourism and business, as there are beautiful and pristine areas not affected and tourism is their number one industry,” said Andrew Doole, President of U.S. Boat Shows at Informa Markets.
The opening ceremony to the world’s largest in-water boat show was conducted in conjunction with the Bahamas Consul General in Miami, Linda Mackey, to symbolize the unique partnership with the organizers, The Bahamas and Florida. Junkanoo Gawds, a Bahamian group based in Florida, entertained showgoers.
Several fund-raising activities including the raffle of a Pioneer 180 Sportsfish boat benefitted True North’s Mission of Hope, a charity for residents of Marsh Harbour. The raffled craft, outfitted with a 114 four-stroke engine and trailer and valued at $50,000, was donated by Palm City Yachts.
A Sunset Soiree & Yacht Chef Competition, an exquisite, $125 plated dinner, per person, served as another fund-raiser that benefitted the people of Abaco via Mission of Hope and One Bahamas Fund. Minister D’Aguilar served as a celebrity judge at the gourmet savored event, and chefs’ uniforms were adorned with Bahamas flag crescents stitched into them.
Throughout the show, the Bahamas’ presence was felt and it was clear — The Bahamas branded fly away campaign and activation message - we are open for business… and It’s Better In The Bahamas was ubiquitous! Branded Bahamas tags were visible for miles in the skies throughout the Fort Lauderdale and Broward areas. Beautifully inviting images of The Bahamas, wrapped around trucks and buses transporting guests to the area, also resonated that message.
Showgoers participated in Junkanoo rush-outs by Nassau’s popular groups, Colors and the Junkanoo Gawds, as others sipped on Kalik beer, the national beer of The Bahamas.
At the Bahamas Pavilion, traffic was consistently brisk, with thousands stopping by daily to enquire and support The Islands Of The Bahamas.
Describing his experience at the show as an incredible and educational one, Minister D’Aguilar said the show was very successful and reaped opportunities for The Bahamas. He capitalized on every available moment at the show.
While there, the Minister met with media professionals and conducted one-on-one interviews with reporters from WSVN Channel 7, WPLG Channel 10, Boating Magazine and N&J Yachting, reinforcing the message that “15 of The Bahamas’ 16 islands are open for business and that the best way to help the people of The Bahamas and its economy is to visit The Bahamas.”
He also met with current and potential investors and super yacht owners, charter operators and brokers interested in and conducting business in The Bahamas, including Bradford Marine, National Marine Suppliers, United States Super Yacht Association and International Yacht Brokers Association.
Minister D’Aguilar also took time out to visit every hotel and marina operator from The Bahamas, who participated in the Show.
Among the Bahamas’ vendors at this year’s show were: Bahamasair, Kalik Beer, Bahamas Maritime, Bahamas National Trust, Palm Cay Marina, Hurricane Hole Marina, Flying Fish Marina, Bay Street Marina, Romora Bay Resort & Marina, Staniel Cay Marina, Cape Eleuthera Resort, Tropic Ocean Air, Valentine’s Resort, The Pointe, Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board and the Association of Bahamas Marinas.
Boating is one of the leading contributors to The Bahamas tourism economy. 2018 has been a banner and historic year for tourism in The Bahamas. And up until the passage of Hurricane Dorian in September 2019, business activities showed signs that 2019 performance would surpass the 2018 performance levels.
Following Dorian, which impacted parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama, the latter of which is now fully open, all efforts of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism have been directed to ensuring that the world knows that The Bahamas is open for business, and welcoming visitors with open arms.
It is estimated that more than 110,000 persons and 1,200 exhibitors from 52 countries attended this year’s FLIBS.