Minister of Tourism Addresses Industry Stakeholders

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The Minister of Tourism, Aviation & Bahamas Air; The Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar; addressed yet another “standing room only” Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association Board of Directors and Members Meeting, held at the British Colonial Hilton on Thursday August 10th, 2017.

The meeting, which was one of the most well-attended meetings held by the BHTA, since the inception of the organization almost 65 years ago; brought forth stakeholders from across the archipelago, representing a wide swatch of tourism industry stakeholders, including a cadre of “Millennials”, who were invited to attend by the President of the BHTA, Mr. Carlton Russell.

“We had the present and future of our Tourism Economy in the room that day” states Carlton Russell, President of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association. “It is imperative we begin to engage our young tourism stakeholders, who will one day, be driving our country’s economic engine. We have a limited window of opportunity where we can harness the vast wealth of knowledge and experience gleaned by our current tourism leaders over the last half a century, and impart what we know to the next generation, so they can be best-equipped to guide the tourism economy of The Bahamas in the future”.

The presence of seasoned stakeholders, young industry executives, “Tru-Tru Bahamian” entrepreneurs, The National Culinary Team, Tourism related scholarship recipients; and top tourism officials including Parliamentary Secretary, Travis Robinson, the youngest parliamentary secretary in office, a past BHTA Junior Hotelier Program participant and Junior Minister of Tourism; was befitting given the message delivered by The Minister of Tourism during his address, and his subsequent outreach for engagement.

The Minister gave a sobering assessment of the state of the tourism industry; as he illustrated the trajectory that key elements of the tourism economy; i.e. visitor spending, had taken between 2000 and 2015.

Statements such as: “While total visitor arrivals have increased between 2000 and 2015, spend per visitor has decreased 30% during this same period” and “Growth of 2M (million) visitors since 2000 has not translated into growth in total spend” were indeed apt demonstrations of the need to reassess and restructure the mechanisms for driving the growth and development of the nation’s tourism industry.

Despite the dismal fiscal picture painted, an overarching sentiment expressed by many in attendance, was one of Hope, as the candid presentation, subsequent open discussions with stakeholders; and the prevalent, ardent appeal by Minister D’Aguilar, for collaboration, and a communicative approach to sound solutions, was well received by BHTA members and executives.

President Russell, in keeping with Minister D’Aguilar’s sentiments, also sought widespread active engagement in his communication delivered to industry: “I ask you to continue to heighten your level of engagement.  I ask you to join us in our efforts to be part of The Change, because Change We Must. The Ministry of Tourism and The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association alone are less of a force than when joined with you, industry stakeholders”.