The University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) yesterday that will see the development of programs and activities around community-based tourism (CBT) that stakeholders hope will elevate more Bahamians to the level of ownership in the tourism industry.
TDC Chairman Michael Scott, who spoke at the signing event held in the president’s boardroom at UB, said the collaboration with the university will help to monitor the development and study of the operations of tours that will be developed on Bimini to service the growing cruise industry that will welcome Virgin Voyages next year.
He said the collaboration will ensure that the linkages created between community-based tour operators, cruise lines and hotels are properly vetted and that they are uniquely Bahamian.
“When people get off the cruise ship they want to enjoy a truly unique Bahamian experience,” Scott said.
“We want to ensure that the quality of the experience that a visitor to our shores gets is of the highest quality and also that we ensure that Bahamians move to the next paradigm, which is going beyond the status of somebody being an employee, to being a stakeholder in the industry. That is the core philosophy, target and drive of the Tourism Development Corporation.”
Dr. Vikneswaran Nair, dean of graduate studies and research at UB – who has worked on CBT across the world – said during the signing ceremony that the MOU will help to advance the mutual interests of the tourism sector and the university as it is developed.
“Recognizing the mutual interest in advancing the national development agenda of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and acknowledging the importance of establishing networks and partnerships in pursuit of the respective mission, the University of The Bahamas and the Tourism Development Corporation enter into this memorandum of understanding to foster mutual cooperation and collaboration in areas beneficial to the furtherance of the strategy objectives based upon the principle of mutual benefit.”
Nair said the relationship will establish a collaborative effort that will develop and execute joint projects in tourism-related areas. He added that the collaboration will include reviewing, revising and updating curriculum to ensure relevancy with industry standards; providing student internships; providing opportunities for staff and faculty attachments and engagements; providing for the sharing of relevant facilities and resources; including faculty and staff for research and seminars; and allowing for the mutual production, promotion and sharing of materials.
TDC Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Janet Johnson said yesterday as she gave remarks, that Bimini is about to become a unique cruise destination for the development of CBT.
“It is an entire island, not a private island like most of the other cruise lines have,” she said.
“So people are able to be a part of what’s going on there… the wider community is. In addition to being able to entertain guests at the club at Resorts World, they (guests) will also be able to come outside and venture into the community.
“So that’s going to be something that’s unique and special and obviously something where we can forge the linkages and ensure that more and more Bahamians get to benefit from what we’re trying to do in Bimini. And so CBT is a great thing,” noted Johnson.