Now is the time to focus on economic diversification, notes CFAL president
Mismanagement of the country’s finances over the years has led to what President of Colina Financial Advisors Limited (CFAL) Anthony Ferguson yesterday called a pandemic recession, which he contended will take a lot of time and tough decisions to get out of, as well as the redevelopment of core and ancillary industries.
Ferguson, who was a panelist on a webinar held by the University of The Bahamas and the Tourism Development Corporation, added that while economic diversification has been a catchphrase for some time, he believes that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spurred the political will to begin to expand the country’s economic drivers.
“From where we look, tourism is still our number one industry,” said Ferguson. “A lot of people like to talk about diversification… For years we paid lip service to diversification. I humbly believe that the time is probably now and perhaps the political will is there to get behind diversifying into agriculture and fisheries that could be a horizontal feed into the tourism product.
“The government will have to make some decisions, like hotels will have to be required to access and purchase, whatever that number is, of local goods to support their guests.”
Ferguson said while diversification is a “beautiful thing”, Bahamians have not even been able to successfully diversify their core industry of tourism.
He added that there is not much heritage or culture that has been developed surrounding the tourism industry.
“I think what’s going to happen going forward, there is going to be a huge opportunity with respect to heritage tourism, cultural tourism and tourists will require value for money. This is the only way we can increase the yield,” Ferguson said.
“Small entrepreneurs have a wonderful opportunity to retool the cruise sector in terms of increasing the yield and the experience of the visitors, while increasing the financial well-being of the individual Bahamians participating.”
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