Minister Vanderpool-Wallace says statistics show that the dampened economic situation in the nation’s second city is somehow directly related to the tourism growth in the capital.
He was making his contribution to the 2009/2010 budget in the Senate Friday.
“When Nassau/Paradise Island grows, Grand Bahama declines,” he said. “It is almost an amazing coincidence, just look at the combination. You have to look at this and say, ‘Why is this happening?’ The reason it is happening is because many people have come to see Grand Bahama Island, as a more expensive, less offer, compared to Nassau/Paradise Island.”
Grand Bahamians have been struggling for years to make ends meet, long before the economy went south.
With major hotels pulling the plug on their businesses, mass layoffs and a sketchy tourism sector, Grand Bahama has long suffered a cruel economic blow.
But Minister Vanderpool-Wallace said figures show that the high costs in Grand Bahama in terms of land, sea and air are directly tied to the downward spiral that the island is experiencing.
He believes there is no way that Grand Bahama can survive if other Caribbean destinations, like Cuba and Jamaica, that are much farther away, offer lower air fares.
“It is less expensive to travel from New York to London, New York to Paris, New York to Rome, than it is to travel from New York to one of our Family Islands,” he said.
“But that’s not all. You get to London and you get to Paris in less time than it takes you to get to one of our Family Islands by air travel. So it is more expensive and it is harder for you to get there.”
Minister Vanderpool-Wallace also noted that tourism figures for the other Family Islands are also less than favorable.
“We like to talk about The Bahamas being 700 islands,” he said. “There’s Nassau/Paradise Island, that’s two with New Providence, this one is Grand Bahama, that’s three. If we are 700 islands that means that the other 697 have flat lined. Since 1977, the numbers for the Family Islands have gone nowhere.”
Mr. Vanderpool-Wallace said his ministry is working feverishly to implement a new marketing and promotion tools, to give the Family Islands the boost they need.
Source: The Nassau Guardian