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BAHAMAS: BHTA president calls homeporting a ‘win-win’, warns ‘We get one bite at this apple’

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By Diane Phillips

PRESS RELEASE: Calling homeporting a ‘win-win’ for the country, president of the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association Robert ‘Sandy’ Sands this week lauded the potential of Royal Caribbean’s plans to homeport in Nassau this summer, declaring it would boost airlift, help fill hotel rooms, and provide opportunities for professional services, jobs, vendors and an uptick to a comeback economy.

“We welcome homeporting, this is very good news for The Bahamas,” said Sands, who was speaking on the inaugural ZNS-TV and radio show Direct Talk with host David G. Wallace. Also in studio – Russell Benford, vice president, Government Relations, Americas for Royal Caribbean Group.

Representatives from the hotel and cruise sectors met to discuss the initiative and its potential impact on both industries.

Sands was realistic about the past, saying it provided context for next steps.

“We have not always seen eye-to-eye,” noted Sands, a veteran of the hotel industry who is also senior vice president of Baha Mar. Homeporting, he said, changes the historic dynamic. “Homeporting will be the beginning of a new chapter in our history.”

Traditionally, Sands said, hotels in The Bahamas average 70% occupancy, leaving 30% empty, earning no revenue though operating costs continue. Additional airlift negotiated to deliver passengers to Nassau to embark on their cruise will help fill those vacant rooms. Guests may want to stay in Nassau or go to the Family Islands after their cruise as well and the more time the ship spends in The Bahamas, the greater the demand for local services.

Royal Caribbean will begin homeporting in The Bahamas with Adventure of the Seas, a vessel that carries 3,800 but will initially sail with about 50% of that number of guests to maintain physical distancing protocols. The first cruise is scheduled to board in Nassau on June 12. Throughout the summer, it will sail on seven-day trips that include a day in Grand Bahama.

“We can see the synergy between the cruise and hotel industry as a result of the agreement for homeporting and for the first time, we will work together for the benefit of the destination,” Sands said.

It was the first time Benford and Sands had met, a symbol of the distance that divided the two sectors of the same industry in the past.

“It is wonderful to be here sitting with the hotel industry and with a leader like Sandy Sands,” said Benford. “It’s an exciting time. You no longer will need to choose hotel or cruise – you can enjoy both and together, thanks to homeporting, we will help reinvigorate the economy as we recover from the pandemic.

According to Benford, Royal Caribbean is reaching out to local suppliers for food, beverage, trucking, ferry services, attractions and excursions, security, professional services and more. The vessel will refuel and re-stock in Grand Bahama as well as taking supplies on in Nassau.

“The economic opportunity and impact for the small to medium size business, even larger businesses, is in the millions of dollars,” he said.

Royal Caribbean has taken several steps to reach out and encourage business to seize the opportunities he says await. More than 620 people participated in the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation and Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce workshops sponsored by Royal Caribbean providing specific details about how to apply to be a vendor. The company has also provided a $250,000 grant to the Small Business Development Centre to help fund businesses it believes have a product or service that would qualify.

But, says Sands, there is one caveat – if The Bahamas is going to excel at homeporting and wants ships to continue to begin and end cruises in the country, those who are participating in the exercise have to up their standards in service.

“We are on the precipice of something major,” he said. “But we only get one bite at this apple.”

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Students display culinary skill and creativity in Bahamas Young Chef Competition

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Lamont Missick with judges and teachers

#TheBahamas, October 19, 2021 –  – Despite setbacks and limitations due to COVID-19, Lamont Missick, H.O. Nash; Gerardo Annacius, Anatol Rodgers and Brianna Butterfield of Kingsway Academy, overcame the odds and finished first, second and third respectively in the second phase of the recent 29th Annual Bahamas Young Chef New Providence District Culinary Competitions.

With hybrid lessons and just two weeks of in-person classes supervised by teachers, the three students, who are enrolled in Family and Consumer Science Education, stepped up to the plate and earned the right to enter the upcoming third phase (National Round) of the annual contest.

Now into its 29th year, the annual district competition, sponsored by the Ministry of Education along with Robin Hood Flour and Mahatma Rice, was held at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School, October 7 and 8.   Under the watchful eyes of judges who are all professional chefs — Clement Williams, Jimmy Dean, Chief Judge Gerald Rolle, Hazel Rolle, and Celeste Smith — the students were required to use Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour to prepare a dish and dessert based on the theme “Bahamian Culinary Resilience: Going Back to Our Roots.”

Following the grueling round in the kitchen and interviews by the judges, Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer congratulated the students and parents, and offered advice to the teachers.

“We appreciate all of the time and effort that you put into your children. This competition is a true partnership between home, school and industry. The chefs are willing to give their input and give them [the students] the benefit of their experience.

“We have three young persons who are very much into what they are learning in school. They are putting their best foot forward. All of them are automatically in the national round,” said Ms. Turnquest.

“COVID-19 is forcing us to use technology in new and creative ways. You are now able to bring industry professionals into your classroom almost on a regular basis who don’t have to leave where they are to get into your classroom to give the students the benefit of their knowledge.”

She urged the students to use the judges’ critiques to refine and elevate their dishes.

“You saw the experience of working in the kitchen with persons viewing and walking through while you are working. That is something valuable. Take advantage of it and we’ll see you again for the National round. Congratulations to all of you today.”

 

Lamont Missick, 14,

Flour dish: Pineapple upside down muffin

Rice Dish: Land and Sea Rice

Lamont said he used the opportunity to sharpen his culinary skills.

“I realized my love for culinary arts from the age of 8. I remember watching Ratatouille, and hearing that “anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great. I aim to be great and one day become and executive chef in my own restaurant,” said the ninth grader.

 

Brianna Butterfield, 14

Flour dish: Sugar apple almond muffins

Rice dish: Spinach Carrot Rice Cup with grouper pineapple sauce

“I love to cook and I wanted to boost my cooking skills,” said Brianna.

 

 

Gerardo Annacius dubbed his dishes ‘Fall ‘n’ Love’.

Rice dish: Conch and shrimp rice ball with plantain and coconut deep fried in coconut topping

Flour dish: Toasted bennie spiced cream puff with native pumpkin and coconut crème filling topped with ginger caramel

 

All of the judges commended the students on their dishes and encouraged them to continue to work hard.

Lamont was praised for his organized and sanitized kitchen-station. Also noted was his flavorful ‘spot on’ rice dish from which exuded flavors of conch, lobster, salt beef and coconut milk.

Chef Williams encouraged him to improve his presentation and move away from serving rice the old fashioned way of “cupping” in a bowl.

The judges were impressed with Annacius’ theme: “Fall ‘n’ Love’ and gave him pointers on how to improve his dish and dessert.

“You experienced a slight setback in the kitchen and your dessert dish did not come out as expected — but you did not stop, you made an effort to present something. Your dessert was flavorful; it did not rise like it should but you executed based on what you had,” said Chef Smith.

 

By Kathryn Campbell

(BIS Photos)

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Nine Grand Bahama residents have had their minor criminal records expunged

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#TheBahamas, October 19, 2021 – The Davis Administration is fully committed to ensuring that young Bahamians get second chances where possible, by expunging minor offence records, where necessary, according to Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey.

“One of our mandates in our ten-point plan in the ‘blueprint for change’ is compassionate social relief and the expungement of records for offences that are due, based on the violations of the Emergency Orders.  So, we are going to continue to ensure that those records are expunged,” said Minister Moxey.

“For Grand Bahama Island, this ministry is responsible for the promotion of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the island. So, this is an ideal time for those who have not been able to find jobs, based on these criminal records, to be able to re-enter the job market.”

During a press conference in the Office of the Prime Minister on Thursday, October 14, 2021, Northern Bahamas representative for the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee, Mr. Dudley Seide, paid a courtesy call on the Minister for Grand Bahama, during which time he announced that nine people from the island of Grand Bahama have had their minor criminal records expunged through the efforts of the Committee.

Minister Moxey called it a great day for Grand Bahama and for Grand Bahamians. She noted that overall, many people in Grand Bahama are hurting financially, adding that those people with minor criminal offences were held back from supporting themselves and their families because of their inability to gain employment because of their criminal records.

“On behalf of the government, we are excited that this day has come and to also let the community know that we are committed to this effort,” added Minister Moxey. “We want to also appeal to those people who may have received criminal records during the Emergency Orders to come forward and apply and begin the process to have their records expunged.”

Mr. Dudley Seide of Reach Out Organization and a member of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee said that nine Grand Bahamians who had applied to the committee to have their records expunged have had their applications approved.

“The mandate of our new Minister for Grand Bahama is to help young people who have been arrested on minor offences and who were arrested or charged during the Emergency Orders,” said Mr. Seide.

“This is a golden opportunity for these people to get their lives restarted. These people can now go on and live their lives. These offences prevented these people from getting jobs, obtaining a U.S. Visa, travelling – but now they can begin to do all of these things. What was hurtful was to see so many people who were arrested during the Emergency Orders, who paid the fines, but who had no idea that these offences were still on their records.

“I want to thank the Minister for National Security for giving young people an opportunity to restart their lives.”

Minister Moxey thanked the members of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee for their tireless work in helping people “get their lives back.”

 

By Andrew Coakley

Photo Caption: PART OF SECOND CHANCE – Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey (second from right) was on hand when Mr. Dudley Seide, member of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee (left) presented Brian Bullard Jr. (second from left) with an official declaration of the expungement of his record, during a press conference in the Office of the Prime Minister (GB) on Thursday, October 14, 2021. Bullard was one of nine Grand Bahamians who’ve had their records expunged through the efforts of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee.

(BIS photo by Lisa Davis)

 

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Statement From Hon. Fred Mitchell, MP Minister of Foreign Affairs On the Passing of Colin Powell

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#TheBahamas, October 18, 2021 – I learned this morning  of the death of Colin Powell, the American general and diplomat. I worked with him as Foreign Minister in my first term, particularly on issues related to Haiti.

Yesterday in the CARICOM meeting, I recalled while discussing Haiti his role in the crisis of that time. I recall his life, times and work as generally thoughtful and considered. He was also an example of Caribbean success in America, one to emulate. He was the son of Jamaican parents. He was an example of success as a Black man in America. I am saddened by his passing.

On behalf of the Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis, the government and people of The Bahamas, and in my own behalf, I extend condolences to the United States of America and his family.

 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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