In the face of a stagnated tourism product because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) is creating stakeholder groups designed to boost and protect those who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.
TDC Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Janet Johnson told Guardian Business yesterday that a cruise committee, one year in the making, will be formalized before cruise lines begin returning to The Bahamas.
She explained that the committee will act as a watchdog for the cruise sector, while providing advocacy for tour operators that depend on the cruise industry in particular for their business.
“The time is now right to do it and to look at some things that are happening in that area and be able to bring some regulation to tour operators that are in that space, to help to get tourism moving again,” said Johnson.
She added that the committee will protect the integrity of the policies that ensure the tour operator sector is reserved for Bahamians; that Bahamians are providing experiences that cruise passengers want; and that cruise lines partner with this sector to ensure passengers come off the ships and are spending money with local businesses.
Johnson also explained that the Bahamas Association of Shore Experiences (BASE) is being formed to become the voice for tour operators.
She said the TDC is working with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on sustainable tourism protocol checklists that players in the shore excursion space will have to adhere to.
According to Johnson, the TDC has also entered into a strategic alliance with the Ministry of Agriculture to build out the agritourism sector.
She said she and Member of Parliament for Fort Charlotte Mark Humes chair the Agritourism Council.
“Before COVID-19, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard entered into talks with hoteliers to have them do more local sourcing and get our farmers to grow what they need,” said Johnson.
“Minister Pintard lauded this program in his budget speech. We’re hoping, over time, we can impact our GDP (gross domestic product) by reducing the overdependence on imported produce.”