At the Abaco Business Outlook 2014, David Johnson, CEO Bahamas Tourism Development Corporation tackled the theme of: “The Role of Tourism Development Corporation to Stimulate Growth, Diversity, and Greater Bahamian Ownership in the Tourism Sector.” Paraphrasing the late Jackson Burnside, Johnson emphasized that it is of great importance for us to understand what we are seeing and looking at.
He directed the audience’s attention to the history of Tourism performance on stopover visitors compared to that of Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The graph indicated that despite The Bahamas’ position as leading tourism player in the region between the mid 1960s into the early 1970s, our country soon began to lag far behind its competitors.
Despite the bleak statistics, he hastened to point out that Abaco is unlike any other island in The Bahamas because it has an industry that is anchored by vacation home ownership.
“The cheerleaders of Abaco’s tourism are hundreds of thousands of persons who own a piece of the rock on Abaco who live in North America, South America and parts of Europe, and they drive most of the promotion of Abaco themselves, and they do it because they have a vested personal interest and love the destination,” he opined.
“So the numbers for Abaco if you look over the last 20 years reflects this stability and this balance and there’s no secret behind it. We all take credit for it, but it is those who’ve invested, who’ve done the heavy lifting of getting the message out, and ensuring that their private homes are occupied.”
His message spoke to the need for all citizens and stakeholders of The Bahamas to better understand our Tourism performance while we develop objectives and execute strategies to return The Bahamas to its previous leadership position in the region.
Johnson said that Grand Bahama is a good template of how swiftly we can move to get things done by identifying the destination’s strengths and then fitting the right partners and business models to bring a solution to these strengths. With regard to hotel stays, neighboring Grand Bahama saw an increase in rooms sold and an increase in the length of time visitors stayed at the hotels.
“This past winter, room nights sold in Grand Bahama led the country at a 41.5 percent pace of recovery.”
Atlantis was also credited for stabilizing the Bahamian economy.
All in all, Johnson said that we have the need to stimulate our gross domestic product (GDP) and improve Government’s earning to make the quality of life in The Bahamas much better than it is today by managing costs, being able to pay for services that the Government provides, and by also growing the economy.
“Government recognizes the need to do both, and on the Tourism side our job is to find ways to generate profitable tourism that compliments the efforts of the Ministry of Finance,” he concluded.