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Prime Minister Minnis Outlines Plans for Grand Bahama

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Bahamas, June 19, 2017 – Grand Bahama – Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis during a press briefing on Saturday stated that his government is committed to the restoration of the island’s economy and increase in sustainable jobs.

Dr. Minnis, accompanied by his wife Patricia, arrived in Freeport on Saturday morning for his first official visit since becoming Prime Minister of The Bahamas on May 11, 2017.

After meeting staff members at the Office of the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Minnis held a press briefing in the conference room.

The Prime Minister thanked the people of Grand Bahama for their support and confidence shown in their team.

He explained that the Ministry for Grand Bahama has been incorporated into the Office of the Prime Minister so as to ensure a smoother and more effective way of processing investments for the island.

Turning his attention to the fiscal budget currently being debated in the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Minnis said, “Once passed, we have included in this first year, funding to create an Investment Promotions Board to assist with bringing more targeted investment and more employment to Grand Bahama.

“In addition, this year, we have also included $1 million for Small and Medium Size Business support to assist local businesses in Grand Bahama. It is hoped that the stronger these businesses become, the more jobs they can provide.”

The Prime Minister continued, “Let me also state  that my government has begun the process of replacing portions of the Grand Bahama Investments Incentives Act to ensure fairness. We intend to bring to an end the additional red tape and uncertainty which is a road block to further investment in Grand Bahama. We will extend the need to submit applications for a period of six months during which time this office will conduct consultations prior to implementing the final replacement.”

The island, Grand Bahama, can be assured, he said, that the government is working tirelessly to reduce unemployment and talks are continuing with the interested parties in the redevelopment of the Lucayan Strip. “My government is hopeful that these talks will lead to the redevelopment and reopening of this strip in the shortest period of time possible.”

During his contribution to the Budget Debate last week, the nation’s chief said he revealed their tourism plan for Grand Bahama. “My administration will also roll out a workable plan for tourism and will, in collaboration with its key stakeholders, rebuild brand identity and incentivize investment in Grand Bahama.

“One goal is to make Grand Bahama a renowned duty free shopping centre for residents and for the millions of visitors from South Florida. Work has already begun to develop new products and market the strengths of each of these three destinations of Grand Bahama:

 

1) Freeport/Lucaya – which will be positioned as a maritime, sports and wellness destination in the first instance;

2) East Grand Bahama – to be presented as an eco-tourism mecca; and

3) West Grand Bahama – as the site of a dynamic cultural village.”

The Prime Minister made it clear that it will not end here. In the long term, he added, the government will work towards making it attractive for film makers to create productions in Grand Bahama.

“There are new hospitality products Grand Bahama can take advantage of such as vacation rental homes, which are today operating outside of the regulatory environment in our country. Such products will have to be registered with the Ministry of Tourism and appropriate taxation will be applied to level the playing field and ensure their contributions to the public purse.

“A critical success factor in tourism is the more affordable delivery of goods and services, especially in the areas of food production, distribution and service. We are intent on boosting the farming and use of native fruit here in Grand Bahama.

“My administration must implement a plan on this island that will actually achieve the long sought-after goal of creating linkages between agriculture and tourism to effect a significant reduction in the food import bill of hotels and restaurants and provide additional employment.”

Press Release: BIS

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U.S. Supports the RBPF With Additional Crime Fighting Vehicles on The Bahamas’ “Road to 50”

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#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – Since 1973, the United States and The Bahamas have enjoyed a long-lasting security partnership.  To mark this valued friendship, the United States Government, on January 31, 2023, renewed its support for the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) with 20 new Ford Police Inceptor Hybrid SUVs valuing nearly $1.4 million.  The United States’ Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts; Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Davis; Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe and RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander were on hand for the donation at RBPF East Hill Street Headquarters.

The 20 hybrid vehicles will be added to the 32 vehicles previously donated to the RBPF by the US government to help replace crucial infrastructure lost during Hurricane Dorian.  Recovering from a hurricane is an arduous process that requires support at many levels, from roads and housing to mental health services.  The U.S. government hopes these vehicles will contribute to one key step in the process: citizen security.  These vehicles will not only assist the RBPF’s efforts to combat crime but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the islands.

In her remarks Chargé Pitts noted, “these vehicles are just one example of the United States’ continued efforts to help for The Bahamas’ keep its citizens and visitors safe.”

Prime Minister Philip Davis showed his appreciation for this timely vehicle donation as it will assist with added capacity and increased saturation patrols on the streets.  The Prime Minister added that residents will notice an increased police presence and the police will have new capacity to respond quickly to any criminal activity.

RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander highlighted that “we have noticeably taken more illegal firearms and ammunition off our streets in 2022.  We have also seized more illegal drugs including marijuana and marijuana plants than in [previous] years.  Suffice to say, we have efficiently utilized all 32 vehicles previously donated by the U.S. government in our crime fighting efforts.”

In recent years, the U.S. Government, through U.S. Embassy Nassau, has delivered more than $25 million to assist The Bahamas with efforts to fight crime.  On behalf of the Bahamian people, Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe extended his gratitude for the U.S. government’s assistance noting “It seems that when we’re together there [is] always an occasion where they [U.S. government] have helped us and assisted us substantially.”

Captions: Credited to U.S. Embassy Nassau

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Minister of Health & Wellness thanks Cuban nurses for their service during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – An appreciation ceremony was held at SuperClubs Breezes resort, January 30, 2023, to thank the remaining cohort of nurses from the Republic of Cuba who joined the cadre of healthcare workers at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) to assist in the delivery of hospital services and patient care in face of the impact of COVID-19.
The cohort originally comprised 42 nurses who started their duties on Monday, January 24, 2022. The ceremony was attended by some 25 remaining nurses.
 
Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville thanked the Cuban Ambassador, His Excellency Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante, on behalf of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues, for Cuba’s response to the call for help from the Bahamas Government.
 
“You came to us in one of our most dangerous moments. You came to us in the heat of the Delta Variant when many of our brothers and sisters lost their lives as a result of COVID,” Minister Darville said.
“At the time that I went to Cuba, we had about 100 nurses in our healthcare system who were out as a result of COVID, while the developed world was recruiting our nurses left, right and centre.”
 
He also noted that at that time The Bahamas could not even get vaccines.
 
“We are a Small Island Developing State. The world was hoarding the vaccines to developed countries and our population was very vulnerable because we did not have access to what the developed world had.”
 
Minister Darville said, “But we had a friend 100 miles to the south of us who came to our rescue. You came to us at our most vulnerable moment. For that as a country, Your Excellency, we will forever be grateful to the Republic of Cuba.”
 
The Minister noted that the nurses’ services were so exemplary and needed, the contract, which was originally for three months, was extended to one-year. Despite this, he said it was time for the nurses to return home to their loved ones.
However, he explained that the relationship between the two countries has not ended as he is in negotiations with the Republic of Cuba for bringing in some additional biomedical engineers, physicians, respiratory therapists and HVAC specialists.
 
 
PHOTO CAPTION – Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville thanked the nurses from the Republic of Cuba for bolstering the country’s healthcare system during the COVID-19 Pandemic, during an appreciation ceremony at SuperClubs Breezes, Monday, January 30, 2023.
 
(BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

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The Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation on Visitor Arrivals

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#TheBahamas, January 30, 2023 – The Ministry of Tourism is extremely excited to announce that visitor arrivals to The Bahamas eclipsed seven million in 2022, signaling a return to pre-pandemic tourism numbers.
In total 7,000,706 visitors came to The Bahamas in 2022.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation Chester Cooper praised The Bahamas’ performance and the work put in by industry professionals across the board.

“The fact that we have exceeded expectations and attracted more than 7 million visitors to our country in 2022, something only done once before in a single year was no accident,” he said.

“Countless stakeholders in the Bahamian tourism industry, including our international partners, worked tirelessly to achieve this. We sought to strengthen relationships to open new air routes. We sought to make travel to The Bahamas easier, more accessible, and affordable and took the message that we were open for business during our Missions and provided insight on our wonderful offerings to the world.”

DPM Cooper forecasted that 2023 promises to shatter even pre-pandemic numbers as interest in the Bahamas and our brand reputation have never been stronger.

“According to statistics the second half of 2022 outperformed the second half of 2019,” he said. In 2022, 1,470,244 visitors came to our shores by air; another 5,530,462 visitors arrived by sea.

Nassau and Grand Bahama remained our most popular destinations by air, while Nassau and The Berry Islands remained our most popular destinations by sea.  Foreign air and sea arrivals for 2022 were up by 233 percent over the same period in 2021 and just 3.4 percent shy of record arrivals in 2019.  December 2022 saw total arrivals eclipse 900,000 visitors, more than any month in our history.  Cruise arrivals in 2022 increased by nearly 400 percent over 2021 and were less than 1 percent below 2019 cruise arrivals.

Air and cruise arrivals monthly from July to December 2022 surpassed the corresponding month in 2019.
Occupancy rates for 2022 eclipsed occupancy rates for every corresponding month in 2021.

The average daily room rate in 2022 outperformed that category for every corresponding month in 2021. The Bahamas carved out new ground with more than 55 percent of first-time arrivals to The Bahamas, with increases in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

DPM Cooper confirmed that the last six months are the strongest The Bahamas has ever seen.  He firmly concluded by saying; “What the Ministry of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation are forecasting so far and what forward bookings indicate, is that we are on track to break records in 2023. We don’t see this slowing down anytime soon.”

Mrs. Latia Duncombe, Director General of Tourism added that everyone should understand that tourism is critical to our economy and all Bahamians, even those who do not directly work in the tourism industry, should always seek to lift the industry up.

“We are all in the tourism business in The Bahamas. And it’s a great business to be in. We want to keep our brand fresh and evergreen. And that’s everyone’s job, especially mine. I have a great, hardworking team at our ministry and we have some incredible things in store this year.”

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