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Grand Bahama Residents Urged to Take Advantage of the Opportunities



#Freeport, GB, February 21, 2019 – Bahamas – Grand Bahama’s economic season is changing, said Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson, on Thursday, February 21 at the official opening of the Grand Bahama Business Outlook.

The 21st annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook 2019 is being held under the theme, “Connecting Resources, Maximizing Opportunities, Transforming Grand Bahama” at the Grand Lucayan Convention Centre.

The sentiments expressed by the Minister received a rousing round of applause from the room filled with business people and students.  Also in attendance were President of the Senate, the Hon. Katherine Forbes-Smith; Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Utilities, Iram Lewis; Senator the Hon. Jasmine Darius as well as senior government officials and executives from the Grand Bahama Port Authority.

“This is a critical time for us in Grand Bahama. I dare say, it is one of the most important times in our generation.”

Quoting Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” he continued, “For years, we have been in a very economically challenging season. It is my considered view that Grand Bahama’s economic season is changing. Therefore, I am prepared to say without reservation, the future outlook for Grand Bahama is bright.”

A report from the Grand Bahama Port Authority states there has been an increase in approved and issued licenses, as well as the report from Inland Revenue of 388 new licenses in East and West Grand Bahama, the island is experiencing steady growth. With a steady reduction in unemployment and an increase in stop-over visitors in tourism, the island is moving in the right direction but there is still much more to be done.

Giving an overview of what is taking place or about to take place on the island, Minister Thompson touched on the sale of the Grand Lucayan as well as the West End Development. The recently announced Carnival Cruise Port was mentioned, and he advised residents to prepare themselves and seize the opportunity as it is expected that 12,000 passengers will visit the island daily, compared to the 2-3,000 that visit twice weekly now.

“So between now, and 2020, we have a lot of work to do. Through this project we have an opportunity to reintroduce Grand Bahama to the world as a premier cruise and tourist destination.

“Grand Bahamians, now is the time to think about restaurants, Junkanoo shacks, retail stores, food and beverage logistics, entertainment, native shows, recreational activities. Carnival will not do this, we must!

“The port will also serve as a transportation hub for tours, taxis and rental cars. This will mean more boat tours, fishing tours, island tours, sports tours like golf and tennis, West End historical tours and East End eco-tours. Carnival will not do this, we must!

“The heavy lifting must be done by Grand Bahamians.”

Announcing a new development, Minister Thompson said the Government has approved in principle the Western Atlantic University School of Medicine to be located in Freeport. Made up of former Ross University professionals, the newly-formed medical school is now continuing their approval processes and hopes to welcome students in September 2019. 

It is expected that the first phase of a $10 million building by the developers will begin and the project will provide 200 jobs.

As Grand Bahama continues to be dubbed the tech hub of the region, two companies GIBC and i-tel BPO, are currently operating on island. “Other companies recently approved under the Commercial Enterprise Act on Grand Bahama include: G.B. Biopharma, a company engaged in biomedical services; DevDigital Bahamas Limited, a Bahamian joint venture web development company; Skyward Techno is another company going through the approval process, a computer software company which developed highly advanced business software solutions. Over the next five years, Skyward Techno has revealed plans to create 100 full time jobs and 180 part time jobs with a budget of $2 million.

Agriculture Enterprises Development Limited, a Bahamian joint venture farming company that will engage in a pilot fruit and nut farm producing coconut, castor and palm oil for the local market and for export; and another Bahamian joint venture company, Bahamas Golden Harvest Limited, was approved to establish a chicken hatchery, produce eggs, chicken feed, cash crops and citrus on East End Grand Bahama.

“We will make our immigration policy more attractive for Tech investment. We are now finalizing draft legislation to create a special visa, known as the BH-1B Visa in keeping with recommendations made by the Grand Bahama Technology Steering Committee. This would be particularly for companies seeking to relocate their development teams to the Bahamas to retain specialized talent.  The committee proposes that through the imminent population growth as a result of this program Grand Bahama will see significant economic impact in the areas of housing, national insurance, food, entertainment, education, healthcare and government taxes among other industries.”

Minister Thompson also addressed free education at BTVI, UB which is expected to begin this fall, and courses currently being carried out at the YMCA.

Small businesses, he said, are getting a major boost with the assistance from the Ministry of Grand Bahama’s Micro & Small Business Grant program where to date, some 197 participants have received the training and 87 have received grants for their businesses resulting in a total of $371,000.

He said, “Further, Grand Bahama’s Small Business Development Center was launched in January. In his official address, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that The SBDC is the centre stone of the Government’s campaign to stimulate Bahamian ownership, to invest in entrepreneurs and to provide micro, small and medium sized businesses the incentives and assistance needed to survive and thrive.  This is a core part of our recipe to grow the economy in Grand Bahama and thereby create jobs and wealth.  The SBDC takes a holistic approach that considers the full range of needs that entrepreneurs have: being training, financing and mentorship.  The Government has leveraged some $5 million in order to secure up to $9 million worth of financing for small businesses across the country. We have done this largely thanks to an unprecedented partnership with domestic commercial banks, the Bahamas Development Bank, and The Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund (BEVF).  Through the SDBC, Bahamian entrepreneurs will have access to: Government Guaranteed Loans; Business Grants; and Equity Financing.  And a large portion of the grants will be earmarked specifically for youth up to the age of 40 from the Family Islands.

“This is just another of several initiatives aimed at empowering Bahamians.  Grand Bahama, I urge you to take advantage of these opportunities.”

By Robyn Adderley

Release: BIS

Photo Captions:

Header: Grand Bahama business people heard on Thursday, February 21, that Grand Bahama has a bright economic future with the current and future projects. This message was delivered by the keynote speaker, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Insert: Many business people in Grand Bahama attended the 21st annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook 2019 at the Grand Lucayan. The event, hosted by The Counsellors Limited, was held under the theme, “Connecting Resources, Maximizing Opportunities, Transforming Grand Bahama.” The keynote speaker was Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Grand Bahama, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson (fourth from right). Next to Minister Thompson is Parliamentary Secretary, Iram Lewis and shown at the far right is Senate President, the Hon. Katherine Forbes-Smith.

(BIS Photos/Andrew Miller)

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Leslie Gibson, first Bahamian to land in Royal Caribbean’s Corporate Offices, looking for others to join the company he praises for diversity and inclusion



Job fair to fill open positions at the cruise line’s Perfect Day at Coco Cay resulted in 62 offers


MIAMI, August 10, 2022 – When Leslie Gibson accepted a position on Royal Caribbean International’s Perfect Day at Coco Cay during the height of the COVID pandemic, he didn’t imagine the opportunity would lead him to his dream job.

“The craziest thing is that what I’m living now, I dreamt about,” said Gibson, who is now based in Miami. “I studied engineering, but I prayed for a job where I would be traveling and working outside of where I’m from. I love The Bahamas and I’m always ready to go back home, but I’ve always wanted to get more exposure, see the world and all it has to offer. And Royal has been able to provide me that.”

Gibson said he found his footing in human resources after friends and family saw his natural affinity for working with people and problem solving.

Gibson began his journey with Royal Caribbean as a human resources specialist on Coco Cay in June 2020, where he worked for 11 months before he was selected to move to corporate and take on a larger scale of recruiting for private island experiences around the world, a role that has expanded to include shipboard recruiting.

Gibson’s promotion reflects a corporate culture of promoting from within. Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, started as a purser onboard the company’s ships before rising through the ranks to head the cruise line that now has 26 ships and more than 77,000 employees.

In just two years, Gibson has helped to recruit more than 300 people to work in The Bahamas, along with another 100 for Labadee in Haiti and more than 1,000 to work on Royal Caribbean’s ships.

“I think that’s why I love being a recruiter, because of the fact that I’m able to help people find their dreams,” Gibson said. “Some people who don’t even know they’re good at certain things, I’m able to help them navigate through that by giving them the opportunity to work with us.”

Gibson recently traveled to Dominica and St. Vincent as part of Royal Caribbean’s recruiting efforts, and he was on the ground for the job fair in Nassau recently when Royal Caribbean made offers to dozens of people in the hopes of filling several different positions on Coco Cay.

The exercise was part of a larger regional hiring effort to attract more Bahamian and Caribbean talent for Royal Caribbean’s private destinations and its ships. Royal Caribbean’s Director of Talent Acquisition Cindy Williams, said the company is coming back “better than ever.”

“We have a strong employer brand, and we are committed to making our return to service better than ever by bringing new crew members to Royal Caribbean,” she said.

Gibson said the magnitude of the post-pandemic boom is evident in Coco Cay’s guest numbers.

“We went from seeing as little as 2,000 to 3,000 guests a day at Coco Cay to now up to 10,000 guests and two ships a day,” Gibson said. “So, that went from our head count being 350 to 450 employees to now almost 600 who are needed for a call day.”

Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley earlier this year announced the company’s intention to hire more Bahamians.

Gibson said that goal is just a microcosm of the company itself, which maintains diversity and inclusion as key priorities.

“I have coworkers from all around the world,” he said.

Recalling Royal Caribbean’s swift response to Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Gibson said the company’s passion for its employees was a considerable factor in his decision to accept his first job with the cruise line.

“I chose Royal because of some of the things they have done,” he said. “When Hurricane Dorian hit those islands, Royal Caribbean were some of the first people on the ground. I wouldn’t even talk about the people who were employed by Royal Caribbean — they spent millions of dollars helping employees get back on their feet.”

And although Dorian made history as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded, Royal Caribbean’s response — rushing in to provide food, water, shelter and medical supplies for those impacted — was not particularly unusual for the company.

“When I say this, I mean throughout any disaster,” Gibson said.

“In 2020, there was a typhoon in the Philippines,” he added. “We assisted so many of our team members with helping their families back home. And this happens all the time. Our company is always about putting its employees first.”


Photo Caption: Leslie Gibson, 30, is the first Bahamian to have landed in Royal Caribbean’s corporate offices, but pledges to be far from the last. At a job fair held recently in Nassau, Gibson and his team of recruiters sought to fill a wide range of openings at Perfect Day at Coco Cay, the cruise line’s private island destination in the Berry Islands.

Release: RCI / DPA Media

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Scores of Students Equipped with Supplies to Return to School



NASSAU, BAHAMAS, AUGUST 13, 2022 – As the new school year approaches, Sandals Foundation Ambassadors at Sandals Royal Bahamian have embarked on a back-to-school drive, donating school supplies to local schools and communities in Nassau as part of their commitment to education and community development.

Recently, a team of over 15 volunteers from the resort traveled to Gambier Primary School, where students and teachers were gathered for summer school, and distributed over 40 packages with school supplies that included notebooks, pencils, crayons, pencil cases, erasers, sharpeners, reading books, rulers and glue sticks and warm meals.

Public Relations Manager at Sandals Royal Bahamian, Renee Deleon, shared the impact that these donations will have on families and schools across the island.

“Education is pivotal to the growth of a nation and it is something that we are committed to at Sandals. We know that back to school expenses here like anywhere else in the world can be quite strenuous so we want to play our part in helping to ease the financial burden that this may present to families as schools look to reopen.”

Deleon further added, “Thanks to the support of our guests who packed for a purpose, we were able to collect these items that will allow students to be equipped with the essential tools they need to make a better transition to the classroom when they return to school.”

The gesture was met with song, dance and echoes of ‘thank you’ as the Sandals team made the presentations to the children. Principal Forbes explained how this donation will help to improve the teaching and learning process.

“I am tremendously grateful to the Sandals Foundation and their team members from Sandals Royal Bahamian for gifting my students with school supplies. This donation will go a long way toward allowing teachers to execute lessons and students to participate.”

Forbes also noted that the school has had a longstanding relationship with the Foundation.

“Over the years we’ve had a good relationship with the Sandals Foundation and I am happy that we still have them in our corner.”

In addition to this donation to Gambier Primary School, the Sandals Royal Bahamian team has distributed school supplies to the Community Touch Group. Donations were also made to children at the Nazareth Centre as well as some children from the Okra Hill community. Later this month the Sandals Foundation ambassadors will be giving back to children from the Nassau Village and Grove communities.


Photo Captions: 

Header: These Sandals Foundation Ambassadors from Sandals Royal Bahamian were captured with bag packs filled with school supplies moments before they donated the supplies to the Nazareth Centre.

 1st insert: It is always a joyous occasion when Sandals Foundation Ambassadors go out to give back.

 2nd insert: Volunteers from Sandals Royal Bahamian were a picture of joy when they stopped by Gambier Primary School to donate school supplies and issue lunches recently.

 Release: Sandals Resort

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GBPA Statement from Ian Rolle, President



Re:  GBPA’s Response to fire in the International Bazaar


#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority is aware of the recent fire at the International Bazaar.

The GBPA has engaged, and continues to engage, with operators of the International Bazaar, which include representatives of the Bazaar Association and several property owners, so that we can continue demolition exercises on the dilapidated structures and buildings.

The GBPA is acutely aware of the need to demolish derelict structures within the International Bazaar for the safety of all businesses and visitors. We have performed demolitions in the past at our own cost, most recently in February 2022 when we, in partnership with owners, demolished fire-damaged buildings in the Oriental Section. We have also written to numerous property owners of dilapidated structures over the years to sensitize them to the need to repair or demolish their buildings.

In addition, we have engaged the Government of the Bahamas in advance discussions to approve our requested amendments of the Building and Sanitary bylaws, which would enable GBPA to execute more demolitions in a timely manner and recoup the associated costs.

With the requested bylaw amendments in place, GBPA can continue to make consistent efforts to address the remainder of derelict buildings in the International Bazaar and other dilapidated structures within the city.

The GBPA itself has never owned any part of the International Bazaar but has historically subsidized the Bazaar for many years when owners were no longer maintaining its communal areas.

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