Minister of Tourism Outlines Areas of Focus, Provides Members with Comprehensive Vision, Fields Questions
Obie Wilchcombe, MP, spent an hour with members last Thursday providing an overview of his primary areas of focus as he again takes the helm at the Ministry. He applauded the work of BHA and the Promotion Boards and stressed the importance of building on their public-private partnerships to improve the industry. Primary areas of focus which he elaborated upon include...
· Airlift Development – building on the US market with added emphasis on Latin America and Asia routes.
· Small Hotels, Family Islands and Grand Bahama – boosting efforts to support small hotels, drawing in part on the recommendations presented by BHA to assist with this and working closely with BHA and the Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board. The Minister indicated that emphasis is being placed on Grand Bahama, where some relief has been put in place for the sector and new initiatives will be announced shortly.
· Service and Product Improvement – raising standards at all points in the visitor’s continuum. The Ministry is commencing efforts in this area and will look to the private sector to work with them as appropriate.
· Culinary Development – The Ministry plans to put in place events and new initiatives to build on this important aspect of the industry’s offering.
· Marketing – The Ministry is adding new expertise to support the Ministry’s marketing efforts, with emphasis on social media.
· Proposed Amendments to Employment Act and Potential Impact to Businesses Explained
Michael Reckley, Executive Vice President for the Bahamas Hotel Employers Association walked members through the proposed provisions and provided analysis based upon a recent review following member input and consultation between the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce & Employers Confederation, BHA and BHEA. He also reported that at a recent meeting which the organizations had with Minister of Labour Shane Gibson, the Minister committed not to rush thru any amendments and to support a tripartite dialogue on it with the organizations, the Ministry and union leaders.
Industry’s positions on the proposed amendments have been presented to the Minister. BHA and BHEA will provide members with a summary report shortly and keep them apprised of developments.
· Minutes Amended at Meeting
· BHA-Ministry of Tourism Product Development Action Plan - Following a meeting which BHA had with the Minister of Tourism shortly after he assumed office, we agreed to work together on priority areas important to the industry’s product improvement. Several working sessions were held between BHA and the Ministry resulting in a plan which was shared with members at the meeting. In reviewing it, you will note a number of areas where initiatives are already underway. A copy of the plan and status is available to members, as are the minutes.
· White Paper: National Recovery & Revitalization Plan for Small Hotels – Meeting attendees were also provided with a White Paper which BHA and the Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board have developed to help guide priority areas of support for small hotels. Aspects of this are being implemented. BHA has made recommendations to Government for support in several areas, and the paper will continue to be a point of discussion and advancement by BHA and BOIPB over the coming months.