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Tourism Ministry adds departure tax rebate to incentive model in GB

D’Aguilar: Marketing partnership models cruise and ferry companies benefitted from in the past ‘made no sense’
Dionisio D’Aguilar.

The Ministry of Tourism has moved to provide a departure tax rebate incentive for companies that bring passengers by boat to Grand Bahama, as two new vessels begin service from Florida this month.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said this incentive model will likely be used for most marketing partnerships moving forward. D’Aguilar said the marketing partnership models used in the past “made no sense”, given that they paid companies, no matter how many people they brought into the country.

He said the Ministry of Tourism gave FRS Caribbean, which began service on its vessel San Gwann yesterday, and Baleària Caribbean “some money to jump-start the marketing” for the new services being offered by both companies. Baleària Caribbean begins sailing its vessel Jaume 1 to Grand Bahama from Fort Lauderdale on Monday.

“The high-speed craft San Gwann – currently operating between Miami and Bimini Island – is now adding a second destination directly from Miami to Grand Bahama,” a release by the company explained.

The vessel, offering comfortable seating for 427 passengers, is equipped with bars in both passenger decks, where passengers can enjoy refreshments and snacks during their voyage, as well as a duty-free shop to end the getaway with mementoes and gifts. Guests can also purchase excursions onboard to enjoy the island.

Tourism negotiated the services from the new vessels when the Grand Celebration cruise ship was seconded to hurricane-ravaged islands to operate as a support ship.

Grand Bahama may be seen by many as an economically depressed island, but it still boasts natural attractions as well as the traditional sun, sand and sea, which D’Aguilar said most surveys reveal tourists are still looking for.

D’Aguilar added that the benefit of companies like FRS Caribbean and Baleària Caribbean is that their passengers can choose to not only do day trips but extended stays as well.

And although the Grand Lucayan resort is still not fully operational, there are resorts and hotels on Grand Bahama that are open for business. Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan recently announced a bed and breakfast package in order to entice visitors if they book by November 15, for stays through January.

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