Economic diversification not understood, says GB chamber chief
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama-The Bahamas has not yet gained a true understanding of the meaning of economic diversification and how it should be achieved, says president of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce K. Peter Turnquest.
Turnquest said it can be easily argued that the country has not diversified its economy sufficiently and it has not made any new strides in the last 20 to 30 years.
Turnquest argued that there can be no true diversification of the economy until a more diverse and broad spectrum of ownership by Bahamians has been established.
“By that I mean tangible ownership of the major revenue producing elements of the institutions that make up the GDP of the country not by a few old wealthy family names and a few post independence groupings, but by a broad spectrum of Bahamians from differing backgrounds and from various settlements and islands throughout our country,”he said.
There is a burning desire for ownership in The Bahamas, he continued.
“Thetangible result of our current situation is lack of creativity, motivation or innovation, political interference and increasing taxation to support extremely outdated models,”said Turnquest.
Speaking on the tourism sector, Turnquest pointed out that a significant percentage of the 5 million visitors to the country last year were cruise passengers who spend significantly less than stopover visitors.
“Not at all underestimating the value of the cruise passenger to those who directly benefit from it when one of the major islands is a first port of call before going on to the private cays, such as tour operators, hair braiders, some straw vendors, etc., it seems to me theonly real beneficiaries are the cruise ships…who get a product for relatively nothing, and the government who gets some reduced departure tax, which enables it to continue its social/patronage programs and of course reinvest the balance right back into repeating the cycle,”he said.
“Meanwhile the land-based hotels, particularly small island resorts, suffer because once you do the islands by ship, why spend money at a fixed base to see what we could have already seen in a day?So our tourism model is old and in seriousneed of adjustment in my view.”