Categorized | National News

Wilchombe Optimistic About GB’s Economy

More airlift and a new cruise ship will be coming to Grand Bahama “very soon,” according to Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

Minister Wilchcombe, who spoke to the Bahama Journal before heading into Cabinet on Tuesday, said initiatives are in the pipeline which should create new jobs for residents on the island.

“Truth of the matter is that Grand Bahama has been in the doldrums since the hurricanes of 2004,” he said.

“It’s taken a long while to get back to where we are but we see light at the end of the tunnel. Beginning this November we will have direct flights to Grand Bahama out of Vancouver and that is significant. Delta is also providing new airlift in Grand Bahama now and we feel very good about that and there’ll be a new cruise ship coming later this year so there are a number of things happening.”

The tourism minister, who also serves as the Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, said his aim is to get the unemployment numbers down “considerably.”

“We want to ensure that our occupancy levels in Grand Bahama remain around 75-80 per cent,” he said,

“We want to ensure that room revenue increases and of course jobs are created. We have a lot of work to do. We believe that we will have total recovery in the tourism industry by next year. Our numbers throughout the country are much better but to get the numbers where we want will take a couple more months and I feel very good about the team.”

According to the latest data released by the Department of Statistic on Monday, between January and July 2013 -136,262 rooms were occupied in Grand Bahama.

In the same period in 2014, 203,446 rooms were occupied – a difference of 67,184.

In terms of percentage, between January and July 2013 Grand Bahama had an occupancy level of 49.52 per cent.

During the same period this year, Grand Bahama had an occupancy level of 56.23 per cent- reflecting growth of 6.71 per cent.

Room revenue also grew over the six-month period.

Between January and July 2013 room revenue was recorded at $12,087,072.58.

That number grew to $16,425,811.47 – a difference of $4,338,738.89 or 35.90 per cent.

Sasha Lightbourne

Written by Sasha Lightbourne

Journal Staff Writer

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