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BAHAMAS: PM, Tourism Officials, Businesses Celebrate Royal Caribbean’s Historic Homeporting, 1st Cruise Sailing from Port of Nassau

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Nassau, Bahamas, June 12, 2021 – With bands playing, national anthems ringing out and the pulsations of Junkanoo, Bahamian leaders, businesses and stakeholders celebrated a long-awaited historic milestone June 12 as more than 1,000 passengers boarded Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas ready to set sail from its embarkation port of Nassau for the first time in the cruise line’s history and a first for The Bahamas.

Adventure of the Seas Home-porting Launch in Nassau Bahamas on Saturday June 12, 2021

Prime Minister Hubert A Minnis, Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Travis Robinson, Royal Caribbean Vice President of Government Relations Russell Benford and others participated in what a guest described as “the first jubilant ceremony in nearly 16 months in downtown Nassau” and what the Director General called “a truly momentous occasion.”

Limited attendance to comply with COVID restrictions did not dampen the spirit of the ceremony held in Pompey Square.

“It has been a long and challenging period for our country and for the entire world, including the global tourism industry and the cruising sector,” said the prime minister, calling cruising “an essential economic driver for our small country.”

He noted that Royal Caribbean was delivering record numbers of visitors to The Bahamas prior to the pandemic that forced a total shutdown of the industry. Now, with the first ship set to sail from its new homeport of Nassau and the hotels buzzing with life as passengers flew in before embarking on their cruise, the prime minister called it “the best of both worlds” as tourism officials pointed to the historic significance.   

“Today, this ceremony marks a turning point in the history of cruising in The Bahamas as a Nassau port of call becomes a homeport for Royal Caribbean,” said Ms. Jibrilu, describing the cruise line’s journey to return to sailing after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown of cruising around the world. Nassau, said Ms. Jibrilu, was an immediately attractive candidate given proximity to America’s cruise capital of South Florida, airlift options and accommodations capacity.

“The proposition for homeporting put forward by Royal Caribbean was immediately embraced by the Ministry of Tourism,” she explained. “We, the Ministry of Tourism and the people of The Bahamas welcome back Royal Caribbean with open arms to rediscover once again why it’s better in The Bahamas.”

For the business community, homeporting is not just better in The Bahamas – it’s better for The Bahamas. A number of Bahamian wholesalers and retailers are reaping the benefits of provisioning the ship. When sailing at full capacity, the vessel carries 3,800 passengers plus crew.

As Royal Caribbean begins its return to sail, ships are sailing with new protocols in place, including limited capacity until further notice.

But, according to Benford pent-up demand is driving strong bookings. He noted that Royal Caribbean’s first foreign port of call was Nassau, some 52 years ago.  

“We have always been committed to building on our relationship with The Bahamas and with the help of the Minister of Tourism, the Director General and their terrific, energetic team who worked with us every step of the way, we are able to stand here today and celebrate the inaugural homeport sailing of Adventure of the Seas in Nassau,” he said.

“What does homeporting mean? Already our partners are telling us they see a difference. With a limited guest capacity of about 25% of normal, we have about 1,000 guests onboard. One hotel told us they had 500+ reservations as a result. Bookings are up for Bahamasair and more flights have been added. NAD officials report an uptick in visitor arrivals and reservations in the coming weeks for both arrivals and departures.

“And because we are provisioning the ship in The Bahamas, we have already signed contracts with a number of food, beverage and sundry wholesalers and distributors including one of my favorite drinks, Switcha which will now be available for consumption and for sale on the ship.

Adventure of the Seas Home-porting Launch in Nassau Bahamas on Saturday June 12, 2021

“At Royal Caribbean, we are always searching for new and innovative ways to help grow the economy in the destinations we visit.

“Homeporting provided an ideal opportunity. We held two workshops with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation in Nassau and the Grand Bahama Chamber to share available opportunities for supplying the ships with food and beverage or our guests with tours and excursions. More than 620 people participated and we had over 100 follow-up inquiries.

“That translated into real business with dollars staying in The Bahamas. 

“We also provided the Small Business Development Centre with a $250,000 grant to assist small to medium-sized businesses that could benefit from homeporting and other projects we have in The Bahamas.

“Additionally, we continue to make upgrades to our hugely popular private island destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Berry Islands where we have invested more than $155 million,” he said. “We really look forward to strengthening our relationships with the many stakeholders in Nassau and hope that it will enhance the overall visitor experience, increase debarkation rates and lead to an increase in visitor spend.”

Adventure of the Seas will depart Nassau every Saturday throughout the summer on a seven-day cruise that includes calls to Perfect Day@Coco Cay, Cozumel, Mexico and Grand Bahama where it will do major provisioning and fueling before returning to Nassau.

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Statement on Road Traffic Department 

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#TheBahamas, September 26, 2022 – As an integral agency under the Ministry of Transport and Housing, the Road Traffic Department is responsible for the collection of revenue from vehicle licensing and inspection fees.

On an annual basis, the revenue from the Road Traffic Department exceeds 60 million dollars.

This revenue is critical in supporting the programmes and initiatives of the Government of The Bahamas and covers the operating costs of the Road Traffic Department.

The revenue must be protected.

To ensure the integrity of revenue collected, numerous processes and procedures have been implemented. Additionally, several audits have been undertaken to ensure that employees act in accordance with the established protocols of the Department.

The Ministry is aware of allegations and discord in the public domain between two employees at the Road Traffic Department.

While it is not the policy of the Government of The Bahamas to publicly comment on internal staff matters, the Ministry takes grave exception to personal allegations against employees being made public while the allegations remain under investigation by independent parties.

Public Officers are reminded of the provisions of General Orders which disallows public statements on any matter.

The Ministry continues to foster and encourage a harmonious and respectful working environment at the Road Traffic Department and all agencies under its remit.

The Ministry remains strongly committed to strengthening the audit and compliance oversight of the Road Traffic Department and will not be deterred its efforts to safeguard the Government’s revenue stream.

 

September 26th, 2022 

Ministry of Transport & Housing

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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NEMA Director orders activation of shelters in GB, Bimini

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Captain Stephen Russell, Wednesday, ordered the activation of shelters in Grand Bahama and Bimini as a precautionary measure against potential impacts from Tropical Storm-Force conditions associated with Hurricane Ian.

 Six shelters were activated in Grand Bahama (two in Freeport, two in Eight-Mile Rock, and one each in Pinedale, Seagrape and Holmes’ Rock) and one in Bimini (Gateway in Bailey Town) at 10am. Captain Russell also announced that Floodwater Rescue Teams have been pre-positioned in West End and Alice Town as yet another precautionary measure.

 The National Emergency Management Agency’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) remained on Partial Activation Wednesday and will remain Activated throughout the response phase. Teams from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Local Government, have been in communication with Island Administrators, Local Government officials and Disaster Consultative Committees in the north-western Bahamas.

 During Partial Activation, certain NEOC Team Members (known as Emergency Support Functions) are activated to monitor certain risks and/or hazards in areas that could be impacted by weather conditions associated with the passage of a storm, and as a means of communicating with/supporting disaster managers and planners and disaster consultative committees on the ground in those areas.

 The NEOC is responsible for executing emergency management and ensuring the continuity of operations for the entire country.

 Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Warning remained in effect for the north-western Bahamas as at 12noon Wednesday with residents of Grand Bahama and the Biminis being advised to prepare for the possibility of sustained Tropical Storm-Force winds tonight through Thursday. Residents in the remainder of the northwest Bahamas, including Abaco, the Berry Islands, North Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera, could experience winds gusting to gale-force during this period.

 (A Tropical Storm Warning means that Tropical Storm conditions could be experienced in the mentioned islands within 36 hours.) 

 Forecasters at The Bahamas Department of Meteorology said rainbands associated with Hurricane Ian, will continue to affect the islands of the northwest Bahamas today and Thursday. Residents in these islands are asked to exercise extreme caution as the rainbands will bring severe thunderstorms, gusty winds and possible tornadic activity.

 Total rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches are expected with isolated amounts of up to 8 inches through Friday. As a result, severe, localized flooding is possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas.

Residents of low-lying, flood-prone areas of the north-western Bahamas, are asked to take special precautions during any heavy and/or prolonged rainfall event, and to exercise extreme caution in the event there is flooding. One such precautionary measure is to avoid driving in or through floodwater, where possible, or playing in floodwater (children) as floodwater can contain numerous hidden hazards. These include:

  • Downed power lines.
  • Sewage and other contaminants.
  • Large Holes.
  • Sharp objects that can cause injury and lead to infections.
  • Objects such as lumber, vehicles, debris.
  • Carcasses of dead animals, in addition to rodents and snakes.

Exposure to contaminated floodwater can result in:

  • Wound infections.
  • Skin rash.
  • Gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • Tetanus (Lock-jaw).

If you do come into contact with floodwater, you are advised to:

  • Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you do not have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizers.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with floodwater or sewage water in hot water and detergent before re-using them.

If you must enter floodwater, protect yourselves by wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles. The same goes for Standing Water.

The National Emergency Management Agency reminds residents to pay close attention to the Alerts, NEWS ITEMS, Public Forecasts, Severe Weather Warnings and/or Special Weather Statements issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.

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Glass Window Bridge envisioned as a symbol of resilience and sustainability says Works and Utilities Minister

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By KATHRYN CAMPBELL

Bahamas Information Services

 

#ELEUTHERA, The Bahamas, September 27, 2022 –  A new bridge design that incorporates opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs was presented at a Town Hall Meeting Thursday, September 22, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Lodge Hall, Hatchet Bay.

During the livestreamed event the Minister of Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears; the Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs; island administrators, representatives of the Ministry of Works, Town Planning Board, the Bridge Authority, Local Government, Lambert Knowles and other consultants, and residents of Eleuthera discussed plans for the proposed replacement of the Glass Window Bridge (GWB) in North Eleuthera.

Minister Sears termed the meeting very “successful” consultation and attendance by local stakeholders and virtual participants.

He said Mr. Knowles has assembled a world-class team of bridge designers who have put together a design that will turn the GWB “into a symbol of resilience, sustainability and also a place of entertainment and relaxation where Bahamian businesses can come and share in the wonderful goods of Eleuthera to the international travelling public as well as the residents in Eleuthera.

“We’re speaking now with Caribbean Development Bank with respect to funding; the design is now completed, there is also interest in PPP’s. Within the next two months we should have a funding pathway and then of course we will move on the procurement. Once the funding is in place we will announce a date.”

“It is not only a look out point, we are approaching this project as an enterprise where the people who live in Eleuthera would have the same opportunities that the people in South would have as the Disney Project would have, but it would be more significant than Disney because this project would be owned by Bahamian people — entrepreneurs, performers and culinary artists.

“Eleuthera is one of the places in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas where development is taking place very rapidly. It is one of the most unique communities in our country; it is the fifth largest economy within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We have some of the wealthiest industrialists with homes in Eleuthera; we also have booming Bahamian business resorts throughout Eleuthera.”

The GWD represents a place where we “can build opportunities for Bahamian businesses, Bahamian entrepreneurs to showcase the imagination of the Bahamian crafts persons, also to showcase the culinary skills as well as the extraordinary culinary dishes of Bahamian cuisine,” he said.

Although “spectacular” Minister Sears said the current one-lane bridge is “dangerous” and unable to facilitate the transport of freight from the north to the south of the island because its carrying capacity is only 12 tonnes — anything over 12 tonnes cannot be transported over the bridge.

He noted other challenges and informed that the bridge is not fulfilling the potential that it has for the development of Eleuthera.

Using a Power Point presentation, Mr. Knowles introduced the design team, technical aspects of the built design and various options considered for the new bridge.

He said the proposed bridge will be unique; a picture opportunity and a venue to host an event. It will have a park, security, rest rooms, parking, a location for food trucks to sell crafts and food; and topography with different elevation.

During the question and answer segment, Minister Sears said a decision has not yet been made regarding a bridge toll on the major undertaking.

“It is a project which multilateral bodies and private sector investors have expressed an interest in participating in the funding. It is a project that once we have the community by-in the government is committed to building a world class production at this location.” Construction is expected to take place on the proposed bridge from 2023-2026 at an estimated cost of $50-$60 million.

The GWB was built in 1990 and provides the only vehicular link between North and South Eleuthera.

 

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

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