#TheBahamas, September 26, 2023 – The Bahamas’ Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe made headlines in a completely unexpected way on Monday September 25; the veteran broadcaster and long-time politician, who passed away suddenly in his home island, Grand Bahama.
Reports to our newsroom were that Wilchcombe was found unresponsive and rushed to the Rand Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Office of the Prime Minister informed the prime minister would immediately travel to Freeport, Grand Bahama to be with loved ones of his Cabinet colleague.
The office offered this: Expressing condolences to the family, friends, loved ones and colleagues of Minister Wilchcombe, a true patriot, visionary leader and his cherished friend, the nation’s leader, in his official statement, said he was doing so with the heaviest of hearts.
“Obie’s untimely passing is very shocking and very sad. Even though he has achieved much in his many years of public service, he still had so much more to offer,” Prime Minister Davis said.
The Minister, affectionately called Obie Wilchcombe, was a fierce Member of Parliament who has been serving in politics for about 28 years, starting in 1994, according to the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
Not only did he serve as Senator and Cabinet Minister, but he was also the former Minister of Tourism and a National Chairman of the PLP.
“Our party is reeling this morning,” said Minister Fred Mitchell, current PLP National Chairman in a statement, “The party joins in those expressions. We have a deep sense of loss from one we have known over the decades of public life.
On behalf of the PLP, our leader and the entire team, supporters and friends, we can extend condolences to his family.”
Former prime minister and PLP party leader, Rt Hon Perry Christie said, “Obie served with distinction as Minister of Tourism. He was a dedicated servant of the people and a chief steward of our nation’s number one industry for some ten years. Any student of the tourism industry for the period of Obie’s ministerial tenure will be left in no doubt as to the magnitude and importance of his numerous accomplishments in relation to the growth and development of Bahamian tourism.”
In fact, as Tourism Minister, his notable accomplishments, according to party leader and prime minister, Davis included the introduction of sports tourism and the creation of a policy which helped to cement The Bahamas as an ideal film destination; two of the top three films of 2006 were shot in The Bahamas.
Additionally, the late Minister was a sportsman.
Wilchcombe served as former President of the Grand Bahama Basketball Association and the Commonwealth American Football League (CAFL).
His career in journalism is legendary. Having worked with the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas as a reporter, anchorman and eventually taking on leadership roles including Deputy General Manager. At the time of his death, Minister Wilchcombe was holder of the Information and Broadcast portfolios of the Davis Administration.
“This is a very sad occasion for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas as you’d be aware one of our Frontline soldiers who would have labored very long in the public service Vineyard had passed, we learned early this morning the Honorable Obie Wilchcombe passed away the free national movement wishes is to extend condolences to his immediate and extended family and to members of the Progressive Liberal Party and to members of the journalism fraternity, having lost someone who has played an integral role in the development of this country,” said Michael Pintard, fellow Grand Bahamian and Leader of the Official Opposition, Free National Movement.
From the region, there is also reflection and condolences. From the Caribbean Tourism Organization: The CTO deeply mourns the loss of distinguished Bahamian leader and former chairman of the inter-regional body, Obediah Wilchcombe.
At the time of his passing, Mr. Wilchcombe was serving as Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, and Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly of the Bahamas.
“We extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to Minister Wilchcombe’s family, as well as the government and people of the Bahamas. He was a true champion for the people of the Bahamas and the wider Caribbean region,” remarked Kenneth Bryan, CTO Chairman and Minister of Tourism and Ports of the Cayman Islands.
“The Premier and Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands sends its condolences to the family, friends, government, and people of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas on the sudden passing of the late Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, MP.
May his soul rest in peace,” said Hon Washington Misick, TCI Premier.
The death of Minister Obediah Wilchcombe is the first; a cabinet minister dying while still in office has no place in recent memory for many. It will mean a by-election for The Bahamas and a mournful experience when parliament reopens on October 4; Hon Wilchcombe with his vast experience and eloquence was also the Government Leader of Business in the House of Assembly, which is currently prorogued.
The Bahamas Records a “Smashing Eight Million Plus” Tourist Arrivals
NASSAU, The Bahamas — Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. I. Chester Cooper announced that The Bahamas has recorded a smashing eight million plus tourist arrivals.
“In 2019, a historic year for Bahamas tourism, total visitor arrivals amounted to 7.2 million. Last year, total tourist numbers matched the 2019 record year total and today we are over eight million,” the Acting Prime Minister said during a press conference and brunch at Margaritaville Beach Resort Meeting Room Ballroom on Monday, December 4, 2023.
He pointed out that the Ministry still has not counted the months of November and December.
Acting Prime Minister Cooper said the explosive numbers places the country on the trajectory to continue the upward trend well into 2024.
“For the first 10 consecutive months, January to October, total air and sea arrivals were higher when compared to the same months in 2022 and in 2019 which was then, our banner year of tourism. We have now moved the goal post.”
He said, “In fact, foreign air and sea arrivals in October increased by 45.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2022 and surpassed 2019 levels by 32 per cent.”
The Acting Prime Minister explained that the US remains the top performing stopover market with the Latin American market gaining momentum in its steady return to pre-pandemic stopover levels, while increased visitor arrivals are coming from Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and as far as Australia.
He said foreign air arrivals for October year-to-date were up by 19.7 per cent for the same period last year and also surpassed 2019 levels.
Acting Prime Minister Cooper said cruise arrivals were up 54 per cent over 2022 levels and 43.2 per cent over 2019 levels.
“We estimate that direct visitor spending in the Bahamian economy as a result of these arrivals will far exceed $6 billion. That’s right, more than $6 billion of new money injected directly into the economy, and this is also up compared to 2019 and 2022.”
He also noted that the nation has seen increased airlift including first time routes.
“Last month, we welcomed the first ever direct non-stop flight by Jet Blue connecting passengers from Los Angeles to Nassau.
“In less than two weeks, Alaska Air will service four weekly flights from Los Angeles International Airport and three times weekly flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport.”
The Acting Prime Minister said The Bahamas Government has launched a public private partnership airport infrastructural project for 14 Family Island airports to increase both domestic and international travel.
He explained that less than a year ago, the $2 million renovation was completed at Great Harbour Cay International Airport and a new terminal was opened in Ragged Island.
“More recently, a management agreement was signed by The Bahamas and Bimini Airport Development Partners Limited to renovate South Bimini Airport to the tune of $80 million.”
Acting Prime Minister Cooper said the $300 million Nassau Cruise Port renovation was completed and the port is now fully opened.
“The port already surpassed its previous record at the end of November and will host at least a projected 4.2 million cruise passengers by the end of the year, setting a new benchmark for Nassau cruise passenger arrivals.”
He also noted that the Ministry of Tourism has intensified its strategic marketing efforts and last year launched the successful “Bringing The Bahamas to You” campaign to more than 15 cities in the USA and Canada to recapture market share and generate new leads.
One Day Married, Woman dies after shark attack in Nassau, Bahamas
#TheBahamas, December 5, 2023 – A newlywed American woman is left dead after a tragic shark attack in The Bahamas on Monday, December 4th, in New Providence.
The deceased, 44 years old and visiting from Boston, Massachusetts, was paddle boarding with her husband when she was attacked, reports say.
According to initial reports, she was with an unidentified male relative, paddle boarding about “3/4 miles out from the shoreline, when she was bitten by the shark.”
Her husband was unhurt in the rare attack in waters just off their resort, Sandals Royal Bahamian.
The Royal Bahamas Police was on site in full force; offering support and launching an investigation into what precisely happened. Police informed that the newlywed died due to serious injuries sustained in the attack and was pronounced dead at the scene.
“CPR was administered to the victim. However, she suffered serious injuries to the right side of her body, including the right hip region and also her right upper limb.”
The incident took place near the Sandals Resort on Cable Beach.
Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort in a statement, commenting on her death said, “we are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of a guest while on a paddle boarding activity nearly a mile from the shore. We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the guest’s family and loved ones. We remain in close contact with them and are providing all support possible during this difficult time.”
Photo: Courtesy of The Bahamas Tonight, ZNS Bahamas
Bahamas went into COP28 with BIG GOALS in mind
#TheBahamas, December 5, 2023 – The Bahamas government highlighted its intentions for the upcoming Cop28 conference which includes taking part in the negotiation process, advancing investment programmes and the launching of major projects.
According to Dr. Rochell Newbold, Climate Advisor, for negotiations, there are three potential outputs the country is looking to follow and they include loss and damage, the technical assistance that will be offered to countries within the loss and damage space and following up on the issues of global stocktake.
For the loss and damage fund, she speaks to the efforts of small island developing states since Cop27, to enhance matters relevant to the loss and damage fund.
This intention, that is to encourage dialogue around this issue, comes as there are geopolitical issues going on globally and global finances are going to those issues and not to global issues of climate change.
In fact, referring to actual statistics, she expressed that in as little as a few months, more than $200 billion dollars were raised and distributed to the issue of war and yet, for years there has been talks around $100 billion needed to address the climate agreement.
For issues of investment opportunities, opportunities which Newbold says would bring great success for The Bahamas, she referred to a current investment project in the country that is a financial grant to address energy and water needs on nine islands within the archipelago, which they are looking to expand.
Furthermore, at Cop28, The Bahamas will launch its BlueCo Caribbean project, driving the blue economy and investment strategy, Newbold said.
This program comes after a regional meeting last year where it was highlighted that the region needs a program to address the needs of island states as well as the fact that less than 0.1 percent of global investments go to the marine environment.
Regarding global stock take, it addresses everything related to the world’s position on climate action and support, identifying the gaps, and working to chart a better course forward to accelerate climate action, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Additionally, Newbold made another revelation that they will be unveiling The Bahamas Sustainable Investment programme, which has been worked on since Cop 27.
Described as a sleek and tactical delegation, the advisor said less than 20 people will be attending Cop28 including the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister with Responsibility for Energy and Transportation.
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