PELICAN POINT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation, the Hon. Chester Cooper says the coconut has become a $14 billion industry worldwide.
He pointed out that coconut water has become a major industry around the world and has become a part of the healthy lifestyle initiative and the bark of the coconut has been used to make jewelry and other souvenirs.
“So, with a festival like the Coconut Fest, Pelican Point and East Grand Bahama can establish its own economy,” said Minister Cooper, during the opening ceremonies for the annual Coconut Festival, which was held on Monday, July 11, 2022, as part of the Independence celebrations.
“That’s why festivals like this are important and critical to communities like Pelican Point and other islands throughout The Bahamas. They bring a surge in economic activity. So, festivals like these are good for the residents and visitors alike, because they allow locals to make money from the event and at the same time, it allows visitors who attend these events to sit down and talk to local Bahamians right in their own backyard.”
The Deputy Prime Minister said that there is much economic potential in East Grand Bahama, in spite of the tough time the community has been through following devastation by Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
He pointed to one of the villas located on the beach where the Festival was being held and noted that the villa is similar to a series of villas located in Ragged island in a small community just like Pelican Point. However, he noted that those villas in Ragged island are booked year round by visitors from the United States, Canada and the coldest places in the world; visitors who come to The Bahamas to bone fish and relax.
“The same thing can happen here in Pelican Point and in East Grand Bahama,” said Mr. Cooper. “We would love to see more communities like these develop, grow and sustain their own economy. When that happens, it makes it easier for the residents in the community to earn a better living, start new businesses and improve their economic future.”
Deputy Prime Minister Cooper said that he has constantly reminded his Cabinet and political colleagues that Nassau, although prosperous and filled with attractions, is not The Bahamas. He said the same principle applies to Grand Bahama, pointing out that Freeport may be the primary town centre of Grand Bahama, but it does not represent the whole of Grand Bahama.
Minister Cooper admitted that he had visited East Grand Bahama a number of times, but had never attended the Coconut Festival.
“This may be my first time to the Coconut Festival, but it most certainly will not be my last,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. “So, Mr. Kwasi Thompson, when you see me in East Grand Bahama, or heard that I was there, just know that I’m only coming to say ‘hi’ to some of my family members.”
Minister for Grand Bahama, Hon. Ginger Moxey, who also brought remarks at the Festival thanked those who helped to organize preparing the grounds for the Festival. She noted that one of the duties of a government is to bring relief to its people and give people a hand up, not a hand out.
The Coconut Festival, she noted, does exactly that, as vendors are given the opportunity to set up food, drinks and souvenir stalls at the festival. Minister Moxey said that a lot of work went into preparing for the festival and much of the burden was borne by the “Beautiful Grand Bahama” crew, an initiative launched by the Ministry of Grand Bahama to bring relief to those who have been unemployed since Hurricane Dorian and for those same individuals to work on projects within their own communities.