Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper is inviting Chinese investors to take advantage of opportunities in the tourism, agricultural and renewable energy sectors and to partner with the government on projects such as the upcoming public/private partnership (PPP) airport redevelopment project.
Cooper gave the clarion call to the Chinese during the Bahamas-China Trade and Investment Virtual Forum last week, which explored trade and investment opportunities between the two nations.
The Chinese are already huge investors in The Bahamas’ tourism sector, via the Baha Mar resort, The Pointe and the British Colonial Hilton hotel.
Conversations about Chinese engagement in The Bahamas’ agricultural sector have waxed and waned and in some instances have been met with discord.
Cooper, though, said there is a “critical” need for investment in the sector.
“We import $1 billion in food every year. There is a critical need for investment in agricultural initiatives to increase our nation’s food security,” Cooper said.
He told the virtual room of potential investors that tourism remains low-hanging fruit for investment in The Bahamas.
“The Bahamas is a highly valued brand in the international tourism marketplace,” he said.
“An investment in a tourism-related project is likely to net you a good return on investment in the short to medium term. Think boutique hotels and vacation rentals. The Bahamas stands at number six in terms of traveler preference for Airbnb vacation rentals in the Caribbean and Latin America. Any activity related to the sea and beaches, culturally immersive activities, second homes, heritage tourism, culinary tourism, there is an exhaustive list of tourism-related areas for investments. But tourism is not the only area.”
Cooper explained that The Bahamas remains focused on the production of 30 percent of its energy through renewable means by 2030. He invited Chinese investors to consider this sector.
He noted that the high cost electricity is one of the barriers to doing business in this country.
Cooper also invited investment in the country’s digitization, explaining that “joint ventures with foreign entities to develop apps are most welcome”.
He also pushed for joint ventures with the government in infrastructure, touting the imminent PPP project to redevelop several of the country’s airports.
“Infrastructural developments, roads, docks and bridges are high priority given the span of more than 20 major islands,” Cooper said.
“We will shortly launch requests for proposal for the complete redevelopment of all of the major airports in our country. I want to emphasize our invitation for more Chinese investments in the islands of The Bahamas through joint ventures and our commitment to lower the trade barrier between China and The Bahamas, as well as expand education and training opportunities for Bahamians in China and the other way around as well.”
Cooper assured the Chinese delegation that The Bahamas remains “fertile ground for investments”.