Natural beauty, excellent warm climate, friendly and hospitable citizens were not sufficient in the Grand Bahama Island. Tourist arrivals were down, occupancy rates at hotels and resorts were low and there was severe pressure on the tourism industry as a whole. Workers were tired of ‘smiling’ and not seeing the real benefits of tourism.
- How do we turn around the tourism industry in the Bahamas?
- Different stakeholders had different opinions about what caused the problem and how to solve it. For example, some believed that shifting to new markets was the solution.
- Other related and non-related fears had emerged, for example, the threat of Cuba.
To develop a comprehensive Strategy and Action Plan for the recovery of the tourism industry in the Bahamas (particularly the Grand Bahama Island).
- The Grand Bahama Island 2000 programme was established.
- Tourism Begins a Home’ programme was launched. With the participation and inputs of all stakeholders, we were able to get buy-in from businesses in the industry to provide 12,000 opportunities for 5,000 workers to be tourists in their own country – swim with the dolphins, play golf, eat at fine dining restaurants, stay at the top hotels. This not only created an increase in tourism activity but also gave Bahamians a greater appreciation for their country and thus made them better tourism ambassadors and tourism ‘experts’ as it were.The ethos of this strategy was to promote and expand tourism from within. Its main aim was to encourage nationals of the Bahamas to be tourists in their own country.
- In addition to long-term strategic plans, the destination also needed immediate remedial action. ‘Tourism Begins at Home’ addressed this issue.
How was this Carried Out
- We took a multi-pronged, strategic approach
- Statistical Analysis to determine the extent of the problem.
- Expert Interviews and Consultations on the ground – to get a better understanding of the problem from different points of views, including public sector, private sector, community members, tour operators and visitors
- Competitor Analysis and Investigative Field Visit to Cuba – almost everyone we interviewed identified Cuba as a threat, therefore a visit was necessary even though it was not contractually required as part of the assignment, a demonstration of our flexibility and determination to get the job done.