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Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority leading ambitious multi-million dollar housing, home repair

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#TheBahamas – March 12, 2020 — The Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority is leading ambitious housing and home repair programs in Abaco and Grand Bahama designed to assist residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.

The Authority is providing temporary residential domes in Spring City, Abaco; additional domes to disaster zone residents who want one on their property; the development of 55 lots in Central Pines for single- and multi-family use, along with two further 60-acre tracts; the Small Home Repair Programme for various levels of home restoration; and, its partnerships with NGOs through which the NGOs provide materials and technical assistance while the Authority pays for labour.

“Providing housing and assisting with home repairs are major points of focus for the Authority,” said Katherine Forbes-Smith, Managing Director of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority on Sunday, March 8 at a two-hour press event hosted by the Authority at Harry C. Moore Library, University of The Bahamas, marking the six-month period since Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Domes

Thirty-two domes in Spring City are complete and have been turned over to the Authority.

The Authority is awaiting final utility connections that should be done this week.

After conferring with the Department of Social Services the domes will be turned over to residents of Spring City.

The criteria to occupy the domes are: a person’s home should have been destroyed by the storm; and, priority will be given to the elderly, physically and mentally challenged, single mothers and families with infants and small children.

“We are also in the process of constructing domes on the private properties of those who meet the criteria, four of which are being installed in Little Abaco,” said Mrs. Forbes-Smith.

“We encourage others with destroyed homes to apply to the Authority for temporary housing assistance.”

Lots/Residential Tracts

The Authority is also working on immediately developing 55 lots in Central Pines for single- and multi-family use.

“We are in the process of having properties from the Ministry of the Environment and Housing transferred to the Authority,” said Mrs. Forbes-Smith.

“It is hoped these units provide much-needed rentals and housing for people already on the island, and those seeking to return.”

Additionally, the Authority is working on the development of two, 60-acre tracts – one in Marsh Harbour and the other in Wilson City. The Surveyor General has confirmed the preliminary survey is complete.

The final plans and topography are being properly documented so the information can be included in an RFP scheduled for issue by the middle of April.

“It is hoped work would begin on this initiative in the third quarter of this year,” said Mrs. Forbes-Smith.

“It is envisioned that the developments will showcase innovative housing solutions that are sustainable, eco-friendly, energy efficient and meet with our goal of building back better.

“Local and international developers will be invited to provide solutions for the 60-acre tracts.”

Home Repairs

The Authority launched its Small Home Repair Programme on February 10.

Residents whose homes were assessed with minimal damage are eligible for $2,500 in purchase orders; those with medium damage are eligible for $5,000 in purchase orders; those with major damage are eligible for $7,500 in purchase orders; and those whose homes were destroyed are eligible for $10,000 in purchase orders.

Purchase order recipients are able to use them for home improvement materials, labour or a combination of both.

There is an online registration for the programme. In-person, sign-up locations have also been established in Grand Bahama, Abaco and New Providence.

To qualify a person needs to be Bahamian; to own the property in question; there must be proof of residence at August 31, 2019; the property would need to have been uninsured; and the property has to be in Grand Bahama or Abaco.

Materials purchased with purchase orders would have to be from approved vendors in The Bahamas.

From Bahamas Ministry of Health

Since the launch of the Small Home Repair Programme web portal, 3,137 people set up user profiles.

Of those 3,137 profiles, 2,069 homeowners have completed the full registration for assistance.

Of the 2,069 homeowners registered: 804 need structural assessments; 471 need to upload documents; 404 approved have met all the criteria and structural assessments.

The Authority is still waiting on 89 percent of homeowners to bring in their quotes so purchase orders could be issued.

Marsh Harbour, Abaco

The Authority has also partnered with various NGOs in Dorian-impacted communities to assist with home repairs.

Through the partnerships the Government pays for home repair labour and the NGOs provide supplies and various types of logistical and technical assistance.

A working model of this partnership is with Church by the Sea in Little Abaco.  Church by the Sea is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

It is assisting with home repairs across the Little Abaco communities.

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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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GB’s tourism numbers have returned a significant 80 percent of pre-Dorian, pre-pandemic

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#TheBahamas, January 30, 2023 – “The future for tourism looks great and the future for Grand Bahama looks phenomenal,” Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investments, Chester Cooper told Tourism partners, during a special welcome reception at the Lighthouse Pointe Resort on Friday, January 27, 2023.

“We will continue to address the needs of tourism in Grand Bahama. We will continue to work on the airlift and we will continue to work on the overall capacity and marketing of Grand Bahama island.”
The Tourism Minister admonished tourism stakeholders and partners to do their part in creating more excitement for visitors about the island of Grand Bahama. Referring to a recent “report” in which visitors complained about not having enough things to do once they disembark a cruise ship in Nassau and Grand Bahama, Minister Cooper called on tourism partners to continue to create more tours and more things for visitors to engage in once their cruise ship docks at port.
Minister Cooper said that there is going to be a continued growth of tourism in Grand Bahama and asked all tourism partners to play their part.
“This year we project that 500,000 visitors will come by cruise…that’s more than 40,000 a month,” said Mr. Cooper. “But I have to tell you Grand Bahama that the people are not getting off the ship because they say there is nothing much to do.
“I call on you therefore, to create more things to do. Create more opportunities and get them off the ship. We can bring them year, but we cannot extract the monies from their pockets. We’re relying on you to do that. So, continue to create the opportunities. Tell the stories of the history and the charm of Grand Bahama island. Take them out east and out west and let them meet the true charm and the warmth of the Bahamian people, so they can feel our heart.He said he’s convinced that Grand Bahama island, with its infrastructure, charm and the depth of a good tourism product, has the greatest potential for growth of the other islands in The Bahamas.
Minister Cooper noted that as of now, the Ministry of Tourism in Grand Bahama has much to celebrate, even as new plans are being put in place to increase the tourism product on the island. He pointed out that statistics show that when they compare arrivals to Grand Bahama this year to what they saw last year, there has been a 350 percent increase.
“When we compare these numbers against pre-pandemic and pre-Dorian levels we can tell you that we have returned eighty percent and that the rebound year-over-year is one of the most significant rebounds that we have seen in any of the other islands of The Bahamas,” said Minister Cooper.
“Grand Bahama has seen a renovated domestic airport terminal; you’ve seen the return of Sunwing non-stop jet service; you will see more airlift very soon from Italy, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta; you will see new routes and increased air capacity. Work will begin at the Grand Bahama International Airport before March 31, 2023 and we will sell the Grand Lucayan Hotel. But I’m not making no announcements. Once bitten, twice shy. When the money’s in the bank, I will come back and tell you. That’s how we’re gonna do it this time.”
Mr. Cooper admitted that there’s still plenty of work to do to improve the tourism product in Grand Bahama, but assured that the Ministry’s leadership team is committed to doing the necessary work. He pointed out that tourism’s sales leadership team that was in Grand Bahama attending the event hailed not only from Nassau, but from the United States, Canada and Europe. This, he said, is not by chance, but rather a demonstration to the Ministry’s commitment to Grand Bahama Island and improving the tourism product.
“This team met in Nassau for the past few days, they’ve been mulling our strategy for the next few months and that means the future for Grand Bahama is moving forward.”
Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey thanked the Grand Bahama Ministry of Tourism’s team for the work they’ve been doing in improving tourism on the island. She was thankful for the reception, which gave tourism officials and industry partners an opportunity to network and dialogue with the Minister of Tourism about Grand Bahama’s product.
“All of the entities represented here, have a vested interest in our island’s tourism product,” said Minister Moxey. “Your products and services are the framework and fabric of Grand Bahama’s tourism industry. Your contributions are significant and they greatly enhance our visitors’ experience.
“I believe that we all share a common goal and that is to see Grand Bahama become grand again. And by working together, we can achieve one of the key objectives of this Davis/Cooper Administration, which is to revitalize Grand Bahama’s tourism industry.”
Photo Captions:
Header: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investment, Chester Cooper (centre), Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey (second from right), Senator James Turner (left) and Director General of Tourism, Latia Duncombe (right) pose for a photo with Captain Keith Culmer, during a reception for tourism industry partners on Friday, January 27, 2022 at Lighthouse Pointe Resort.
1st insert: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investment, Chester Cooper was the keynote speaker during a reception to welcome Grand Bahama tourism partners at Lighthouse Pointe Resort, on Friday, January 27, 2023.
2nd insert: Minister for Grand Bahama, Ginger Moxey talking with two of Grand Bahama’s tourism executives, during a reception for tourism partners at Lighthouse Pointe Resort on Friday, January 27, 2023.

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UB Statement: Portia M. Smith Building Under Assessment

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#The Bahamas, January 27, 2023 – In response to concerns expressed, University of The Bahamas released a notification on Thursday 26th January 2023 that effective immediately the Portia M. Smith Building at the Oakes Field Campus is closed until further notice as a precautionary measure.

Immediate steps have been taken to engage the Ministry of Environmental Health to conduct a thorough assessment of the building. In the interim, personnel assigned to Portia M. Smith have been instructed to work remotely to maintain the continuity of operations. A further communication will be issued once the assessment has been completed as we continue to provide timely updates.

Please be assured that the health, safety, and welfare of members of the University community and the general public are paramount and we are working with urgency to address this matter.

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