Wilchcombe: GB cannot exist with present levels of inventory

by: Lededra Marche, News Editor

Tourism Minister Obediah Wilchcombe said yesterday Grand Bahama cannot exist with the levels of inventory it presently has and gave a positive growth projection in the coming months.

He was addressing the business community at the 16th Annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook at the Grand Lucayan Resort.

Wilchcombe was the keynote speaker at the one-day symposium that was held under the theme, "Charting the Course for Growth in Grand Bahama 2014." 

With the new Memories Grand Bahama, adjacent to the Grand Lucayan recently open, the Member of Parliament for West End and Bimini revealed projected levels of 80 percent occupancy at that resort.

In addition, he said, the airlift and fast ferry service to the island is expected to increase.

" We are going to be causing business to come to Grand Bahama on a year round basis. And so we will be moving away from that time when we were boom and busting as opposed to what we are going to be doing now which will be booming from one step to the next and causing for sustained economic growth, particular in the tourism sector,"  he said.

Come May 1, the minister revealed, Bahamasair, the National Flag Carrier, will be bringing another 14 gateways from eight cities in the United States and new business to Grand Bahama as part of Vacation Express and Sunwing.

Minister Wilchcombe also revealed that the fast ferry, Balearia Bahamas Express will begin operating next month with a larger ship with a capacity to bring 900 passengers a day.

He also pointed out that the island will not be a successful destination unless it has the inventory and the product.

Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville reminded corporate Grand Bahama that the stated of the island's economy requires much preparation for the way forward.

"This administration has worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to promote the future development and expansion of economic activity that would result in entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for Bahamians throughout the country and Grand Bahama is no exception,"  he said.

Director of The National Training Agency (NTA) Agatha Marcelle explained the new initiative government has undertaken to retrain and retool the country's workforce.

After announcing that Norma Pyfrom will manage the NTA offices in Grand Bahama set top open on March 6, Marcelle stressed the importance of investing in one's people.

" We want to make sure that the buildings and our rooms and our facilities are in top notch shape. We want to make sure that the products to our customers are in top notch shape and so it only makes sense for us to look at the other side,"  she said.

" Because no matter how beautiful the building, no matter how much money you spend on it, if you donâ t have people who interact with other people to make them appreciate it, then you still have a challenge." 

Marcelle also beseeched employers to work with their employees, adding that it is something that does not happen automatically.

Pointing out that the NTA is a skills competency based organization, Marcelle said it offers a service for people who need help.

The goal, she added, is to help the candidates find the gift within so that they can make a meaningful contribution to the workplace.

" We're going to be that agency that builds a competency based training and job placement system that is flexible and responsive to the actual requirement of the workplace,"  she said.

" As the economy grows we are going to need people who can fill the jobs that are going to become available." 

Grand Bahama Port Authority Vice Chairman Sara St. George noted that next year will mark 60 years since the signing of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, development and a fulfillment of a dream.

" Sixty years of a successful partnership between the government of The Bahamas and the GBPA,"  she said.

Referring to the HCA as the fabric of Grand Bahama and the magic carpet under the magic City, St. George said it was the journey that included the dredging of the deep-water harbour, the canal system, the Rand Memorial Hospital, schools, banks and the highways.

" The Freeport of today is the building block of the Freeport of the future,"  she said.

St. George added that the HCA has attracted first-class investors like Hutchison Whampoa, the worldâ s leading developer of ports, MSC, the largest shipping company in the US and Latin America and Bahamas Oil Refining Company, PharmChem, Columbus Communications, Carnival Cruiseline, Royal Caribbean, the Grand Bahama Shipyard, Scotiabank and Royal Bank of Canada.

" These companies have invested in Grand Bahama, in the people of Grand Bahama. They are good corporate citizens and their going to invest more, millions more and it is our mandate to help them to do so,"  she said.

St. George said the key to staying competitive is reevaluation and always striving to be best in class in an ever-changing environment.

Published  Friday, February 28,  2014

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