Tourism will remain as one of the major pillars of economic and social development in the Bahamas. The industry drives the island to promote the financial services sector, e-business opportunities along with agriculture and fisheries. On top, the tourism office welcomes the introduction of the tourism satellite account, which provides a common, internationally-accepted standard of classifying tourism for a country’s economy by component sector.
The satellite account has facilitated more efficient national planning for developing tourism overseas for the Bahamas.
Not only an important achievement for the Bahamas, it is also a great tool for advancing its programs. “We were elected into the regional commission of the America’s Committee of Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account permitting us to share our experiences in the global problem which the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) currently focuses on. We face minimal challenges with effect to the economic sustainability of the industry, including increasing oil prices, terrorism, susceptibility to natural disasters, health care and, the increasing concern on climate change and its potential impact,” announced Bahamian Tourism Minister Neko Grant last week.
“Low-lying islands such the isles of the Bahamas also cause a particular concern to us. The geography of the Bahamas places our islands at risk due to rising sea level,” Minister Grant added.
As a small island developing state, the Bahamian minister said they do not contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. However, he explained that they suffer as a result of the global carbon footprints and emissions.
To address this point, the Bahamas has adopted initiatives which include conducting awareness symposium, workshops and forums on climate change on the impact on resident and investment community; development of a national policy on climate change, and development of a wetland policy that restricts destruction of all wetlands, while focusing on strengthening the enforcement of the building code.
The Bahamas is committed to following the principles of sustainable development and all tourism projects on island in excess of $20 billion in tourism infrastructure development. “All Bahamian islands would have to comply with strict environmental impact assessment prior to acceptance. We must seek that investors profit maximization does not override the need for manageable coexistence with environment in the broadest sense,” Grant said. Due to this investment environment in Bahamas, Grant vowed they will stay on the America’s Committee for Sustainable Development and Tourism to which the country has been elected into early this week.
Meanwhile, on the Out Island of Exuma, the Club Peace & Plenty has shown its commitment to sustainability with a long history of implementing sustainability in its hotel and on Exuma, in general. The 32-room inn located in George Town, Exuma had made, on numerous occasions, generous donations to the Coastal Awareness Committee of the Bahamas. One percent of all revenues generated during the months of February and March at Club Peace & Plenty had been pledged to the Committee for both the National Coastal Awareness Campaign and for coastal awareness projects in Exuma.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Exuma won the American Express Environmental Area award with the considerable help of many people on the Out Island including the staff and owners of the Peace and Plenty. “Our property incorporated solar water heaters 30 years ago. We’ve also put in the gray water sewerage system a few years ago which allows us to use resulting water on the ground, thereby saving our precious fresh water supply. We started a towel and linen reuse program 10 years back. We also use long-life low-wattage electric light bulbs,” said resort owner Barry Benjamin.
Further, “We incorporate our weekly cocktail party into the community activities by making sure we have local artists and business people included. We participate in the Coastal Awareness Month not only by helping clean up the shoreline, but also by giving part of our profits to help others do the same,” added Benjamin.
The 50-year-old resort started the Exuma Foundation 15 years ago which they feel is one of the best private-public cooperation organizations in the Bahamas.
The Bahamas and the tourism ministry laud the efforts made by the Club Peace & Plenty in promoting sustainable tourism.
This was somehow confirmed through Grant’s address on November 28 before the ministerial delegates at the UNWTO seventeenth General Assembly in Cartagena, Colombia. Grant closed, “New and challenging initiatives are required. There’s much at stake. We welcome the UN WTO forum to further meaningful discussions on tourism quality and issues affecting us all.”