The members of the Association of Former Tourism Employees and Retirees (AFTER) have expressed condolences to the family of the late Basil Albury on his recent passing and shared special memories of his contributions to tourism.
Mr. Albury was appointed assistant director in the Ministry of Tourism in 1971. His colleague John Deleveaux reminisced about Basil Albury’s early years at Tourism.
He noted that Basil was a key pioneer who joined the original team of senior officials — Som Chib (director), Dan Lewis (assistant director), E. John Deleveaux (assistant director), Angela Cleare (manager), Juanita Gonzales (controller), and others, that established the Ministry of Tourism’s head office in Nassau in 1968.
He further noted that Basil’s pioneering spirit and devotion to Bahamianization won the respect of all with whom he came into contact, and his influence and guidance, so widely exercised at The Ministry of Tourism, were acknowledged and felt.
Mr. Albury’s contributions to the development of tourism were particularly effective in the areas of product development and marketing of The Bahamas, especially in Europe. His expansive product development portfolio included Reception and Information Services, People to People, Sports and Aviation, Bahamas News Bureau, Hotel Training, Hotel Licensing Unit, Tourism Awareness campaigns, Beach Wardens, downtown and airport tourism facilities, and Freeport and Family Island Offices.
Angela Cleare, who was general manager for product, noted that the mandate was to offer exciting and safe visitor experiences in Nassau and throughout the islands, and Basil insisted that his team constantly seek ways to improve the variety and quality of the product for visitors to enjoy while in The Bahamas.
Judith Theophilus, who was the founding president of the AFTER group, reminded us that, in 1972, Basil launched the Poinciana in June festival. This event attracted numerous garden enthusiasts from North America who toured private and public gardens to enjoy the dazzling floral beauty of the Royal Poinciana in bloom and the many native plant species of The Bahamas.
Sheila Cox, former general manager of ecotourism, noted that Mr. Albury’s enthusiasm for protecting the environment and his support of the ecological elements of tourism was a segue into the ecotourism era. She further noted that Basil had a strong appreciation for Bahamian talent and he insisted on utilizing Bahamian entrepreneurs when available. He was a stickler for perfection.
Basil Albury pioneered the development of domestic tourism. In 1973, he spearheaded the most successful “Evening in the Family Islands” promotion attended by hundreds of Bahamians and key industry executives.
There were elaborate displays by Family Island hotels, continuous showing of films on the resort islands, free vacations as door prizes, and discounts were offered on room rates throughout the islands.
After this event, Bahamians appreciated that travel within the islands was affordable and domestic tourism increased that year by 100 percent. He also coordinated Goombay Summer for several years.
As deputy director general with responsibility for Europe, Basil supervised tourism expansion into Germany, France and Italy. He traveled extensively, promoting The Bahamas, and enjoyed an excellent relationship with his tourism colleagues throughout the world.
At various times in his professional tourism career, Basil Albury was the Ministry of Tourism’s representative for the Caribbean Tourism Association, Caribbean Tourism Research & Development Centre, and the steering committees of the Bahamas Hotel Training Council.
He worked closely with these organizations in developing policy.
Julia Burnside, who managed the Culinary Arts division at Ministry of Tourism, reminded us that Basil Albury can also be credited with presenting the case for the establishment of the UWI School of Hotel Management and the Tourism Centre in The Bahamas; she recalled that he produced the Cabinet Paper for this project within 48 hours.
Athama Bowe was Basil Albury’s assistant when Junkanoo was in tourism’s portfolio. He noted that it was Mr. Albury who brought the “glitter” to Junkanoo and he strongly believed that Junkanoo had the capacity to sell The Bahamas to the world.
Mr. Albury also served as chairman of the Masquerade Committee (now National Junkanoo Committee) for 10 years (1973-1983).
Former Director General Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who served briefly with him on this committee, recalled that Basil introduced several innovations in the Junkanoo parades during his chairmanship – some of which are still in place today.
His colleague John Deleveaux also commented that Basil’s professional relationship with him during their years together has given him profound respect and sincere admiration for his style, integrity, and loyalty to friends and his generosity in helping others.
For a very long time after they both departed from Ministry of Tourism, as deputy directors general, the twin names of E. John Deleveaux and Basil Albury were remembered, identified with and stood out for the highest type of tourism leadership, professionalism and loyalty to worthy ideas.
Those in the tourism industry who were privileged to know Basil Albury felt a keen admiration for his great character and ability. In the truest sense, his work represented far reaching vision and practical accomplishment in the tourism field.
Ms. Donna-lee Hilton, president of the AFTER, noted that Basil Albury was a valued member of the association. He will be greatly missed.
On behalf of the association, she extends heartfelt condolences to the family of Basil Albury – his wife, retired Justice Cheryl Albury, daughters Candia Ferguson and Dr. Caryn Albury, his grandchildren, and his entire family.
May Basil Albury’s soul rest in peace and rise in glory.