Written by Natario McKenzie, Eyewitness Business News, October 22nd, 2021
RIPE FOR THE PICKING: The Bahamas is “fertile ground” for investments, says DPM
“In fact, all of the areas of investment I’ve touched on are wide open to joint ventures”
BCCEC notes opportunity for increased Bahamas-China trade and investments
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas is “fertile ground” for investments, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper, who told a recent Bahamas China Trade and Investment virtual forum that tourism and renewables were among some of the areas ripe for investment.
Cooper noted that the country’s visitor arrival numbers are steadily increasing and are back to 75 percent pre-pandemic levels.
“The major cruise lines have returned to our islands — Carnival, Royal Caribbean International, Crystal Cruises, Virgin Voyages — making regular weekly calls on The Bahamas, with three of them having made The Bahamas their homeport over the summer months,” said Cooper.
“For the first time since the pandemic, the Port of Nassau last week welcomed five cruise ships in one day, bringing over 9,000 visitors to the City of Nassau.
“Among international travel consumers, there is a pent-up demand for travel to The Bahamas. This pent-up demand has resulted in a significant increase in airlift from all our primary markets in the United States.
“Major airlines such as American Airlines, Delta, United, Frontier Airlines [and] Southwest Airlines connect The Bahamas, both Nassau and the Family Islands, to hub airports in regions across the US that traditionally deliver us the most visitors — the southeast and northeast.”
Cooper noted that the tourism sector is “low-hanging fruit” for investment, with The Bahamas being a highly valued brand in the international tourism marketplace.
“An investment in a tourism-related project is likely to net you a good return on investment in the short to medium term,” he said.
“Think boutique hotels and vacation rentals. The Bahamas stands at number six of traveler preference for Airbnb vacation rentals in the Caribbean and Latin America.”
With one of the barriers to doing business in The Bahamas being the high cost of electricity, Cooper noted that investment in renewable energy projects is also an area worth considering.
“High on the government’s agenda is the digitization of business processes. Joint ventures with foreign entities to develop apps are most welcome,” said Cooper.
“In fact, all of the areas of investment I’ve touched on are wide open to joint ventures. Infrastructural developments, roads, docks and bridges are high priority given the span of more than 20 major islands.
“We will shortly launch requests for proposal for the complete redevelopment of all of the major airports in our country.”
Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) chairperson, noted that there are opportunities to increase trade and investments between The Bahamas and China.
“According to the International Trade Centre’s calculations for bilateral trade between The Bahamas and China, it was reported that total imports from China in 2018, 2019 and 2020 was $54 million, $24 million and $34 million US dollars respectively, while exports to China in 2018, 2019 and 2020 were $426,000, $214,000 and $56,000, respectively,” she said.
“No doubt there is room to increase the amount of exports to China from The Bahamas and we trust that this forum will provide the business links to make this a reality.
“As the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and the voice of the private sector, we will continue to promote Bahamian businesses in this regard.”