Kickstart May Come For Halted Tourism Projects

SOME tourism developments that ground to a halt in the wake of the global financial crisis may get a kick-start this year, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham suggested.

"While foreign direct investment flows into our country have declined, there are new signs that several of the tourism related developments which stalled because of the global recession and international financial crisis are preparing to move forward this year," said the prime minister last night.

He said: "We are hopeful that a number of the stalled previously approved tourism related projects will re-start or commence in 2010. Several projects in Eleuthera, Abaco, Long Island, Cat Island and Rose Island are also encouraging."

It is not clear if Mr Ingraham's final reference was to the halted development of the luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel and marina on Rose Island.

That mixed-use project, initially slated to be completed in 2009, came to a shuddering halt when investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, taking with it much of the development's financing.

Speaking more broadly on developments in the tourism and second home industry, Mr Ingraham suggested that the recent opening of the new luxury 183-room Sandals Resort in Exuma is expected to "stabilise Exuma's economy this year" having created jobs for 300 Bahamians.

Mr Ingraham advised that as many as 200 new construction jobs will be created through the second phase of the $75 million Caves development now getting underway.


Meanwhile, he heralded the current employment levels at the Albany project in southwestern New Providence, noting that 862 construction workers are now engaged at the multi-million dollar luxury golf and marina resort and another 71 Bahamians are engaged by the Albany Development Company, bringing the total to 943.

Mr Ingraham noted that the second home market, in which Albany will play a significant part upon completion, "remained soft" in 2009, but did not do as badly as some expected.

According to Mr Ingraham, there is a "growing trend internationally" for the development of "exclusive specialty boutique resorts which are proving to be less susceptible to the ups and downs of the world economy."

In the Bahamas, the reopening of the Tiamo Resort in Andros, the upscale Delphi Club in South Abaco, and the scheduled April opening of the new S&T Beach Club in San Salvador reflect this trend, he suggested. "Tourism is, of course, our business. We are focused on making our islands more accessible, more affordable, and more convenient. And, we have been able to maintain our market share, maintain our room rates, and grow certain segments of our business," said Mr Ingraham.

Success in this regard has already come in the form of the bigger than ever cruise arrivals last year - 3.5 million.

"There have been double-digit increases in cruise passenger delivery each month during 2009 to New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands," said Mr Ingraham.

The Bahamas now also has "more air service than ever before", with numerous airlines having announced new routes to the Bahamas in the latter part of last year. This equates to an increase of almost 400,000 new "seats" available for those wishing to fly here this year from the US and Canada.

Source: The Tribune