Abaco’s “robust”, tourism-driven economic boom is the driving factor behind the decreasing unemployment numbers on the island, Abaco Chamber of Commerce President Ken Hutton said yesterday.
Abaco and Grand Bahama were the only two islands that experienced a decrease in unemployment, 7.7 percent and 11.9 percent, respectively, during the latest Labour Force Survey conducted by the Department of Statistics.
“Definitely the economy here seems to be very robust. The numbers show tourism has been up,” Hutton told Guardian Business yesterday.
“We think a number of factors, primarily being the damage that occurred down south in some of the Virgin Islands from the hurricane, a lot of that business has shifted up here, because those destinations are no longer available right now.”
Abaco’s tourist stopover visitors increased 18 percent last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism, and The Bahamas is expected to experience a 16 percent increase in air arrivals over last year during the first quarter.
Hutton said he hopes the economy continues on this trajectory, particularly in light of the prime minister’s announcement during his televised national address of a $580 million investment in South Abaco for the development of a five-star residential resort and marina.
“I would love to hear more about it. Anything that can increase economic activity in Abaco, the chamber is all for it,” Hutton said.
The proposed project by the Tyrsoz family involves the upgrade and expansion of the Sandy Point airstrip; the development of the Sandy Point ferry dock as a cargo transshipment port and construction area; and the extension of Queen’s Highway in South Abaco, the prime minister said.
“I don’t know what the thinking is behind it; I haven’t seen the business plan. I don’t know what they’re thinking. I just know Sandy Point is a good 40 miles from Marsh Harbour; I know that it costs upwards of $300 to pull a trailer from that area up to Marsh Harbour, as opposed to a trailer coming directly into Marsh Harbour not costing that much. So again I don’t know the details, so I can’t speak with any kind of authority,” Hutton said.
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