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Letter to the editor:

The state of the Bahama Tourism Industry

Sep 18, 2009

While the Bahamas' Minister of Tourism and his FNM government are groping about the country's tourism industry, which has essentially hit the bottom of the barrel and which has indeed collapsed for the most part, their Jamaican counterparts were in the news, recently boasting about 70,000 brand new air seats, which they had secured for that country's upcoming winter season.

In Saturday's (September 5) Freeport News, Jamaica's deputy director of tourism, David Shields, was seen in a photo at a press conference briefing the media on that country's good fortune in securing commitments from airline and tour operators to bring an additional 70,000 passengers from a number of European capitals to Jamaica this coming winter season.

They accomplished this feat (and it is a feat) last month, during the world championships held in Berlin Germany, where Jamaica's athletic team picked up 13 medals, including seven gold, four silver and two bronzes. While the athletic team was performing on the field winning medals in sports, the country's tourism team was in the boardrooms of airlines and tour operators winning medals in their tourism promotion.

I had high hopes for Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace – albeit not very high, I must admit, but hopes nonetheless – being able to pull our tourism industry out of the hole that Neko Grant left it in, but it seems to me that Vander-pool-Wallace himself has climbed down into that hole, from which he hasn't been able to climb out of since he took the job succeeding Grant.

On a recent vacation cruise up the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada, every port on the ship's itinerary was bustling with tourist. In Baltimore they were boasting of entertaining around 85 cruise ships for the season and in Boston, they claimed that 165 ships were scheduled to call at that port. It should be noted that the cruise season in these ports of call is not year-round like ours, but probably only around three to four months out of the year. We really should be ashamed of ourselves.

We who led the Caribbean in year-round tourism have faltered and done so very badly. Our competitors, like Jamaica, have not wasted time in taking over where we have fallen on our faces and I say to them, well done. We have chosen instead to waste precious financial resources to purchase a three-storey mansion in Atlanta for Kay Forbes-Smith coupled with all the pomp and pageantry of a grand opening fit for Her Majesty.

A consulate in Atlanta is not such a bad idea, but did we have to do it right now when Americans are not taking vacations because they have more important things to worry about? Especially from that particular part of the USA, where the ethnic make-up of the population is of those who traditionally travel less anyway? Who makes these asinine decisions anyway? Don't tell me, I know.

Watching this FNM crew govern is like watching a baby learn to walk; he falls down every two steps.

The state of the Bahama Tourism Industry
Source: Forrester J Carroll J.P

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