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“TOURISM NEEDS NEW PLAN”—Sir Baltron calls for focus on Family Islands

The  former Senior Policy Advisor  to the  government, Sir Baltron  Bethel says the Bahamas  must develop a national development plan to ensure the continued success of the Bahamian tourism industry. 

He  said, “the reality is that in many  other countries, they have developed national development plans for short term, medium term and long-term goals,” he said.

“What we need to do is to be able to develop these plans, stick with the plans; now successive governments will tinker with it, but the main plan remains the same, and the sub components of it may change from government to government.

“But the end goal of achieving a certain GDP or the creation of a certain number of jobs or a certain number of hotel rooms remain the same.”

Sir Baltron made the comments this past Sunday on the Love 97 Radio programme “Jones and Company.”

Appearing on the  show with former Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson,  the  former Chief  Negotiator for the Baha Mar project said, “Tourism still has a lot to offer in The Bahamas in terms of future growth particularly in the family islands and in parts of Grand Bahama.

“We must do so in order to compete. We’ve seen phenomenal growth in The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and in other areas and other parts of The Bahamas.

“Every country in the Caribbean and in the Americas  is  going hard after tourism and The Bahamas has lost some ground and we have to make that up, in terms of new product,” he said.

“New Providence is an old destination and we’ve had some new product added, but the real jewels and the real gems are the family islands.

“In terms of what we could do with boutique tourism and eco-tourism in the family islands, and the great strategic precision that the Bahamas occupies, is its location.

“We’re so close to North and South America, we are more accessible to Europe and to other parts of the world. 

“So, we have these jewels in the family islands that can be developed to meet the demands of the present-day consumer, on a grander scale than we can, I think in any other part of the Americas.

“But we must ensure that we do it in accordance with a proper plan and that all of infrastructure are in place to support it.”

Recounting  the negotiations and responding belatedly to some criticisms on the Baha Mar project, Sir Baltron expressed satisfaction that the project is successfully completed.

Although some felt that the negotiations with the Chinese cost the Bahamian government too much money, for instance the access road to Baha Mar Resort, and that the government was  too generous in terms of concessions,   Sir Baltron said it wasn’t negotiated with the Chinese,  but the original developer, Mr. Sakis Izmirlian. 

“Bear in mind now, here was a developer, an investor, coming with this huge investment, and we got an area which is being run down, and what Nassau Paradise Island had going for it at the time was Atlantis and there was no counterbalance to Atlantis, on New Providence,” he said.

“So, the idea was to create something that was going to be attractive. Atlantis was successful, Atlantis has features in which they were able to have magnificent landscaping. They had a setting where they would have the beach, and they would have a certain level of privacy.”

“But what happened with the Cable Beach road originally, the Cable Beach road was running right parallel, right hard against the existing hotels and in order to expand and to enhance this development it was necessary to move the road,” he said.

“So, the government bore some of those expenses and the developer bore some of the expenses in that process so that the formula which was used was a formula that the parties agreed to. 

“And the end result now is that you have one of the most beautiful landscaped areas in The Bahamas, in the Cable Beach area and you couldn’t get that unless you moved the road,” Sir Baltron said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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