Bahamas considering initiatives to address passport issue
The passport issue "will greatly impact the Bahamas as well as the entire region," said Vernice Walkine, director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
While only between 25% and 30% of U.S. citizens have passports, "our statistics show us that well over half of our U.S. visitors do have passports," the director general said.
However comforting that may be, "even the smallest loss of business affects the bottom line of our tourism industry, which is our primary revenue earner," Walkine pointed out.
The Bahamas may initiate measures such as an advertising and public relations campaign to alert prospective visitors of the new requirements, and incentives to encourage early passport applications. -- G.N.M.
-- Although mega-resort developments dominate the accommodations'
picture in the Bahamas, the priority is to maintain "a balance
between necessary development for our people's economic prosperity
and the cautious restraint necessary to protect our fragile
environment," according to Vernice Walkine, director general of the
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
Speaking at the
29th annual Caribbean Tourism Conference, Grand Bahama Island --
which suffered through hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 and
Wilma in 2005 -- "is proof that the business of tourism is
resilient. Grand Bahama has survived, and investor confidence has
never been higher," Walkine said.
Indicative of that
confidence is the 4,400-unit Ginn sur Mer resort community under
development on Grand Bahama's West End; the renovation and 24-suite
expansion at Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht Harbour, also in
West End; and the marina expansion at Grand Bahama Yacht Club in
Port Lucaya, which will include 300 mega-yacht slips.
On New Providence,
the 600-room, all-suite Cove Atlantis will open in March as will a
$700 million water park with water slides, and Dolphin Cay, a
dolphin lagoon and education center which includes rescued dolphins
that had been left homeless after Hurricane Katrina.
Also on New
Providence is Baha Mar, the $1.6 billion redevelopment of Cable
Beach in Nassau that includes a 3,550-room resort complex, which
"is pushing New Providence to new heights," according to
government's strategy of establishing anchor properties on major
islands is often misunderstood for being one-dimensional and
inappropriate for the Out Islands," Walkine said, "the fact is that
this strategy has proven successful."
As the case study,
she cited the Four Seasons Resort on Exuma, which she described as
"the catalyst to economic development."
On Great Exuma, the
Emerald Bay Resort opened a casino last May and 72 Caribbean-style
villas; Cotton Bay Estates & Villas on Eleuthera will open
phase one of its villa units in fall 2007; and Bimini Bay Resort
& Casino on North Bimini recently opened 95 residential rentals
in a development project that will include a Conrad Hotel and
Along with the
benefits accrued from economic development come "new business
opportunities for Bahamians."
that the Bahamas' development plan is built on "a foundation of
social justice. We are not seeking to make dollars and cents the
only criteria for building new tourist facilities."
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].