The tourism sector requires “critical evolution” in order to make the country’s top foreign currency earner much more resilient in the face of economic shocks, Governor of The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) John Rolle said Thursday, adding that entrepreneurs will have to lead the move to that more resilient state.
Rolle, who was a presenter at The Counsellors Limited’s Exuma Business Outlook, explained that while the CBOB is progressively pursuing reforms to make the financial sector more resilient, the tourism sector will also have to follow suit in order to guard against the economic shocks that present themselves in the aftermath of devastating natural disasters.
According to Rolle, in the face of “mounting climate change vulnerabilities” Bahamians and The Bahamas government will now have to more prudently manage finances over a lifetime.
He insisted that tourism’s income-producing assets must be better protected from the effects of strong storms like Hurricane Dorian, which devastated parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
“If The Bahamas is to cope better with more frequent and intense tropical cyclones, it needs to be able to keep more of its income-producing resources out of harm’s way,” Rolle said.
“One way to do this is through direct ownership over more mobile infrastructure. The cruise industry does this already, and such capacity exists to a great extent with smaller pleasure crafts.
“This ties in with taking more advantage of the blue economy, yachting and ecotourism. Achieving increased direct ownership and direct employment in the sector would expand the associated retention of economic benefits.”
Rolle said the country’s exchange control regime already allows for Bahamian business owners to attract capital in foreign currency, in an effort to increase ownership in the maritime sector, in order to build economic resilience.
“… It is a strategy to which heightened entrepreneurial focus is now required, and potentially public policy that would provide the same tax incentives for maritime assets as is done for onshore tourism assets,” he said.
He added that on the residential side, more resilient dwellings will have to be constructed in the future in the form of high-rise condominiums that are able to withstand the effects of strong winds and flooding due to storm surge.