Lack of balance in Exuma economy
A lack of balance in the Exuma is stunting its economic growth, with the chamber president saying that the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort has a”strong grip”on the island’s economy.
Floyd Armbrister told Guardian Business that all of Exuma’s economic activity is centered around Sandals, and wants to see a shift that will enable the island’s residents to reap some benefits.
“What we are creating is a social problem if things continue now if they exist how they are because the person who have always been here that benefitted from all the activities that are going on in the island have real earning problems now,”Armbrister said.”We have to do whatever it takes to seeks resolve.”Armbrister also said that Sandal’s presence has placed other businesses at a disadvantage, citing that most of the complimentary operations that normally benefits from a resort are not doing so. One of those business was tour operating services, where Armbrister said tour company Island Routes’strong affiliation with the resort makes it difficult for other operators to acquire customers.
“It was probably by design, he said.”The fact that they created Island Routes would tell me that their study indicated that there are other lucrative revenue streams that they can benefit from by creating that company.”
The Exuma chamber president added that although Sandals is a driving force for the island’s economy, some type of collaboration should made with local businesses that would bring tourists into the community and allow them to purchase goods and inject money into those operations. He mentioned that there are a number of challenges with doing that, the biggest one being trying to market to visitors the rest of the island.
“People will have to do something different in order to get tourists in the community, but with Sandals offering all-inclusive packages visitors may not feel the need to leave the resort,”he said.
And with American Airlines now upgrading to a jet service to the island creating an additional flight, Armbrister said the rest of the island won’t benefit as much as Sandals will.
“Sandals will benefit significantly from the jet service,”he said.”While the[jet service]is a positive, the flip side is until the persons coming into the islands and going to Sandals are also coming into the community we’ll probably still have some time before we can see any significant improvement to the island’s economy.
“Tourism numbers may be up, but if the numbers increase[the rest of the island]doesn’t feel it.”
Calls to the Sandals Emerald Bay resort were unsuccessful up to press time.