I have a special affinity for Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar politically and based on friendship, which I value above all else. This love fest, if it may be referred to as such, began long ago and predated his entry into frontline politics. If it were my choice, I would have wanted him to be a member of the Progressive Liberal Party.
He is to be singularly congratulated on the recently announced execution of an agreement between the owners of Grand Bahama International Airport and the Minnis administration for the acquisition of the airport. Airlift is critical to the emergence of Freeport in particular and Grand Bahama in general.
This airport has long been in decline but Dorian made it even worse.
Grand Bahama was designated as an industrial site decades ago, but its potential as a tourist destination has yet to be capitalized on. This island is huge and has almost unlimited potential for Bahamians to own a piece of the proverbial rock. There are thousands of vacant, fully serviced residential lots just languishing over there but without guaranteed economic activity, few Bahamians would venture to relocate to Grand Bahama.
It is a well-kept secret that a choice residential lot, with even a partially built structure, is available for under $100,000.
Grand Bahama Port Authority has an inventory of foreclosed properties just waiting for progressive Bahamians to invest in at affordable prices. The reopening of the airport is the long awaited catalyst for the resurgence of Freeport and the entire Island.
The pieces are now falling into place. Once the ink is dried on this agreement, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the owners of the port in Freeport, now have an added incentive to complete that sale and to ensure the timely completion of the sale of Our Lucayan resort.
These are essential components in getting Grand Bahama up and running again. We need to figure out ways and means of getting more displaced residents and natives of Grand Bahama back over there.
While we are at it, we also need to encourage a move by other Bahamians, especially those right here in New Providence, to relocate there and ease the population strain on this island, which is grossly overcrowded.
The prime minister should seriously consider the public development of subdivisions along the lines of what he is proposing in New Providence.
The hardest working Cabinet minister, bar none, is the focused and innovative minister of tourism and aviation. Tourism is 65 percent of our bread and butter. While the majority of other ministries are challenged, tourism is still ticking and getting even better as we roll out a comprehensive vaccination plan.
The Ministry of Health needs to ramp up its vaccination program and make it easier for willing Bahamians to access an approved vaccination. Their information portal and website need to be improved, pronto.
Some critics have questioned the government’s purchase of the airport. I wonder why. Is it mere political posturing or is there any merit in opposition to this red letter day purchase? All of you know that I am not an FNM and most of my other habits are good. To have been able to purchase that airport at a nominal $1 is excellent.
Yes, we will have to pony up an additional million or so dollars to take care of severances packages, but that is money that will be paid over to Bahamians in Grand Bahama who in turn will invest or spend that same money in the local economy of Grand Bahama. This is a win/win situation and ALL Bahamians, regardless of political persuasion, should be happy over this well-executed deal.
I would hope that within the next four weeks, D’Aguilar will be in a position to announce the final turn over of Our Lucaya to the proposed buyer, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
The return of The Magic City is at hand. Once Freeport is fixed and up and running, the Minnis administration should then turn its attention to West End and Bimini. East End languished under the lousy political representation of Peter Turnquest and I am elated that he will be gone, totally, in short order.
That area of Grand Bahama has unlimited potential waiting to be tapped but not by pie-in-the-sky outfits like Oban. By the way, whatever happened to that elusive dream?
Nevertheless, the acquisition of the airport is one of the best things ever achieved by this lackluster administration. Thank God for Dionisio and his team.
Grand Bahama will be on the move, again, in short order.
— Ortland H. Bodie, Jr.