Bahamas back in tourism business

With several multi-million-dollar investments coming to its islands and a new $3 billion resort in Nassau opening later this year, the Bahamas is on its way back, Prime Minister Perry Christie said Friday in Miami.

“The Bahamas is a place you can do business in. You can do business effectively and you are able to make a return,” said Christie, speaking at the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD) conference at the Biscayne Bay Marriott in Miami.

“We have this incredible opportunity. Not just in Bimini but in Grand Bahama,” he said, naming some of the new hotel investments. “We are developing these islands. We have a whole chain of islands with wonderful opportunities.”

Yet, even as his government seeks to lure more hoteliers and tourists from Latin America and Europe, Christie and others acknowledge the lack of airlifts remains a key obstacle. It’s a challenge facing almost every Caribbean nation, from struggling Haiti to tiny Anguilla, which has been feeling the effects of a decision by major U.S. carriers to cut back on flights into the Eastern Caribbean.

“It’s costly to travel just from Florida to the Bahamas right now,” Bahamas Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said, noting efforts to begin talks with airlines about increasing service and decreasing ticket prices. “There’s interest in coming to the Bahamas, but you have to put the airlift in place.”

Rick Fox, former Los Angeles Lakers player turned Bahamas tourism pitchman, said the lack of flights to the other islands keeps many from enjoying “the many flavors, tastes, sounds that make up our culture.”

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