Bahamas Tourism on The Mend
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Nothing is more critical to the recovery of the Bahamian economy than a revival in tourism, and a year on year performance shows significant increases in 2010 over 2009 in six of the nine months through September, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said.
Speaking at a meeting of the Rotary Club of West Nassau on Thursday, Mr Ingraham said, “Each of the last five months represented significant improvements over the corresponding period in the previous year, in what appears to be a clear trend of tourism revival.”
He also noted that it appears unemployment has levelled off, some companies have begun hiring again and statistics from the National Insurance Board suggest that the rate of layoffs has slowed.
These taken together with a modest rate of increase in the US economy, driven in part by consumer spending, encourage the view that The Bahamas is showing signs of an economic recovery in the works, the Prime Minister said.
“But perhaps the most impressive encouragement for the future comes from prospects which we are able to identify as very likely developments,” he said.
“Most important for projections of employment stability and growth are a number of ongoing infrastructure and construction projects, both private and public, which are continuing and in some cases nearing completion opening opportunities for permanent employment in new premises coming on stream,” he revealed.
“We are able now to identify a number of proposed foreign direct investment spending over the next four years and domestic investment spending within the next three years,” Prime Minister Ingraham said.
“Together these projects have the potential of unleashing the kind of dynamism within our economy and can bring unemployment to low level and create the economic platform which will enable us to pursue the advances in education, health and social and business development and systemic efficiencies that would substantially progress our broad national development.”
The Prime Minister said the Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Cable and Wireless Communications Plc, UK in connection with the sale of a 51 per cent interest in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Limited.
“The privatisation of BTC and the eventual liberalisation of the cellular market bode well for the economy,” he said. “We expect that consumers will benefit from access to higher quality and more affordable telecommunications services all across The Bahamas.”
Improved communication services will assist in efforts for the country to remain more competitive as a business and tourism destination, the Prime Minister said.
“There is every reason to expect that a privatised BTC will continue a policy of outsourcing non-core functions, thereby supporting the large and growing small business community which depends heavily on BTC today,” he explained.
New entrepreneurial opportunities will also become available to Bahamians as a result of the liberalisation of the telecommunications market, Prime Minister Ingraham added.
While there are risks in the country’s prospects for the future, there are also opportunities, he stressed.
“There are threats posed by the continued economic sluggishness in Europe,” the Prime Minister said. “National Debt issues continue to threaten several European countries with the potential destabilisation the Euro zone and derailing the US economy.
“These are risks to be recognised but not to immobilise us from ensuring our readiness to take fullest advantage of the opportunities that become available to us,” he said.
By Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services