By Dana Niland
The Bahamas is looking to spur a rebirth on the island of Grand Bahama.
The plan, according to Bahamas Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, is to position Grand Bahama as a multi-destination vacation paradise “catering to all tastes.”
D’Aguilar said the government’s recently-announced purchase of Grand Bahama’s Grand Lucayan resort could be the catalyst to the island’s rebirth, “a chance to improve the mood and confidence level on island, and really allow for a proper re-branding of Grand Bahama.”
“Grand Bahama’s awe-inspiring natural assets – outback forests, mangroves, extensive cave systems, miles of secluded beaches and surrounding seas teeming with trophy fish and an underwater wonderland, will easily allow us to entrench the island as an eco-tourism paradise and haven for fishing, diving and birding,” he said. “On the drawing board are plans to make Grand Bahama a mecca for world-class sporting events from road races, cycling, kayaking, sailing, golf, tennis and sports retreats.”
Grand Bahama has already gotten a boost from the recent addition of a second cruise ship from the Grand Celebration firm, which is now bringing daily ferry service to Freeport from South Florida.
“We have seen significant improvement in the total number of passengers coming to Freeport, and we have now focused all of our incentives in getting more of those passengers to get off the ship and spend a couple of nights in Freeport with the full knowledge that, with daily service, they can stay as long as they want and return whenever they are ready,” the minister said.
Indeed, an additional 26,000 passengers arrived in Grand Bahama in the first six months of 2018, compared to the first half of 2017, thanks to growth in cruise and ferry passengers.