MIAMI, Florida – During his July 15, 2022 remarks at the 26th Annual National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) Investment Summit and Trade Show, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip E. Davis said that they all lived in a time of climate change and pandemics and geopolitical turmoil, where “no one can afford to sit still – not in the government, and not in the private sector”.
“In order for countries and companies and entrepreneurs to thrive, we need to be resilient, flexible, and innovative – and we need to work together,” Prime Minister Davis said, at the event, held at the Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon, in Miami, Florida, on July 15, 2022.
“That’s why we believe, and we have implemented in our National Development Plan, Public Private Partnerships (PPP) as an important element for our national development,” he added. Prime Minister noted that The Bahamas was still recovering from Category 5 Hurricane Dorian and the current pandemic. However, he said, as the nation rebuilds, it does so with resilience and sustainability as key goals.
“And just as we are preparing our physical infrastructure for a more intense climate, we also want to build resilience in our health and educational systems as well; so we are able to meet this time of change from a position of strength,” he said.
“Even as work to diversify our economy, tourism and financial services will remain our centre pillars,” he added. “It is against this backdrop that we seek opportunities for strategic partnerships.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that, at 26 years and counting, NABHOOD works to increase entrepreneurial and wealth creation opportunities by providing the resources, training and the platforms necessary to develop, manage, operate and own hotels.
“We are excited about this because a priority for me is building and expanding Bahamian executive employment and ownership within our tourism industry,” he said. “Your workshops and trade shows and partnerships with global hotel brands offer invaluable opportunities for networking, mentorship and training regarding hotel ownership, investment, financing and development.”
“NABHOOD is said to have the largest black-owned Hotel Directory in the world, as well as the oldest and largest resource center for black students interested in careers in the hospitality industry,” Prime Minister Davis added. “This resource, in addition to the global NABHOOD Hospitality Student Leadership Program, represents unique opportunities for scholarships and a student exchange program with us, in The Bahamas, with our Bahamas Hotel Training College, which is attached to the University of The Bahamas – that works in collaboration with the University of the West Indies to produce entrepreneurs and hoteliers; and we invite NABHOOD to partner with us in these exchange programs.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that the partnership and scholastic exchange program was “a good fit” for The Bahamas’ proposed entrepreneur’s Innovation Park at the University of The Bahamas and the reestablishment of the Grand Bahama Hotel and Catering College.
“We also are developing our Community and Heritage-Based Tourism policy initiative, which focuses on increasing the economic benefit through the Tourism Value Chain, to expand vendor opportunities and reduce ‘leakages’ while increasing industry competitiveness, and providing linkages to other sectors of our society,” he said.
“My government’s economic policy includes the establishment of a $250 million investment fund to support entrepreneurs, particularly in this area, and to create the linkages between the tourism product and the other sectors of our communities,” Prime Minister Davis added. “Additionally, we will create, and have created, tax relief for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises to support their opportunities to succeed.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, to attract investments to The Bahamas and expand trade, his Government was moving to establish international trade and investment attachés in all of its embassies. The nation’s regional tourism offices will also offer resources and support to facilitate synergies and linkages, he announced.
“In addition, our foreign missions will implement international secondment programs for international companies who hold Bahamas work permits and others,” he added.
“This policy, we think, will improve the ease of doing business with The Bahamas, and support the country’s already favourable investment climate.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government was in the process of refocusing the Bahamas Investment Authority into a nimble promotional arm, focusing on attracting investment and industry across all industrial sectors to The Bahamas, including tourism and travel.
“Coupled with the support of the Bahamas Tourism Development Corporation, our investment climate is poised to become even attractive,” he said.
Prime Minister Davis noted that one of the biggest expenses in The Bahamas’ hotel industry was the cost of energy.
He said that his Government was fully committed to energy sector reform, with a target of 30% reliance on renewable energy, as a minimum, by the year 2030. By reducing the cost of energy, he added, his Government could create a more competitively-priced tourism product.
“The Bahamas, ladies and gentlemen, is fully open for business,” Prime Minister Davis said.
He pointed out that The Bahamas was “hit hard” by the era of lockdowns and travel restrictions; but the pent-up travel demand meant that the nation had full hotels and a tourism boom at that time.
“We are very deliberate and strategic about the way forward – which includes building our blue, green and orange economies, and further developing cultural, medical, religious and sports tourism,” Prime Minister Davis said.
He added: “What makes The Bahamas a unique and attractive partner? We have 16 island destinations, each with their own unique culture and ripe for investment. In addition, our proximity to the US and our preclearance facilities provide very clear advantages.”
Prime Minister Davis said that The Bahamas will find innovative ways to thrive during a time of change.
“We are building our blue, green and orange economies while improving the ease of doing business in The Bahamas,” he said. “We are building a more inclusive economy by incentivizing the creation of new opportunities.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that, coming out of the pandemic, the nation finds that the strength of our brand, the appeal of The Bahamas, remained undimmed, undiminished.
He added that, in fact, if anything, it had strengthened to the extent that The Bahamas needed to grow its supply.
“We need investment in visitor accommodation, as demand for hotel rooms and so on is struggling to keep up with supply, as I speak,” he said.
“We need investment in our cultural and entertainment offering, so that visitors have a wider and larger choice of activities while on vacation,” he added.
“And we need investors like you, to partner with us to provide it — investors who embrace our national priorities and share our cultural heritage; investors who themselves understand that in this post-Covid era of climate change, we need to innovate in more ambitious ways than ever before; and investors who seek the kind of skilled workforce, and the stable legal and financial framework that The Bahamas offers.”
Prime Minister Davis said that that was why, for example, FTX, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, in the past year decided to relocate their headquarters to The Bahamas. “World-class businesses from other sectors are doing the same thing,” he said. “And so I look forward to partnering with many of you, to create a new era of win-win success stories.”