Unlocking Cat Island’s rich history
Published: May 17, 2013
Name: Christopher King
Position: Certified tour guide, New Bight, Cat Island
Guardian Business: Can you briefly describe your experience in the tourism sector and what your role is today?
Christopher: Cat Island is a beautiful place that is rich in culture, music, history, folklore and drama. There are beautiful beaches, places of beauty and interest waiting to be explored. My experience in tourism began on an evening in April of 1993, driving a 1990 Dodge Caravan up the entrance of the Cutlass Bay Resort in Cutlass Bay Cat Island. I was asked by the managers James and Sandy Robertson to transport their guests on a tour of the island to some places of interest.
GB: Why did you choose to work in tourism as a career?
Christopher: I choose to work in tourism because I see it as a vehicle to bring the world to us. Cat Island has attractions, culture, history, bush medicine, and folklore that have yet to be seen and told. I enjoy meeting people and telling them about our God's good land. Someone needs to tell the untold story.
When I arrive back at the resort, the guests thank me individually and tell me what a wonderful experience they had. It was a moment like this that changed my life. Many years ago, I remember dropping off some guests and they asked for my card. I wrote my name on a piece of paper and handed it to them. Driving away from the resort that afternoon, I actually saw the world unfolding before me. Here was an opportunity to start a business. I ran with it. Soon people were telling other people about my tours on Cat Island.
I applied to the island administrator for a taxi plate and was given CI #2 . I was the second person in Cat Island to have a taxi plate. In May of 2000, I became the CEO of C&O Friendly and Efficient Taxi and Tour Services. Working with Olive King, my wife, we sought to improve and develop ourselves by taking advantage of the Bahama Host programs that was being offered at that time.
GB: Has the industry changed since you started your career? How?
Christopher: A memorable moment was the past minister of tourism and other top officials visited Cat Island and specifically asked me to tour them around. We visited many attractions: Mount Alvernia, John Hawkins Plantation, the Rail Road Track, St. Francis of Assisi, Colonel Andrew Deveaux Mansion, the Step Wells, Old Bight Beach and Bourbon Plantation.
I have seen the tourism industry grow in Cat Island from two couples per week to 20 tourists daily. Serving in the capacity as a marriage officer, I have had the opportunity of meeting and marrying many tourists from all over the world. More resorts have been built, more taxis are now in operation, provisions are being made to have more activities for tourists and more food and straw vendors are coming forward to make Cat Island great again.
GB: What should The Bahamas focus on to stay competitive?
Christopher: Cat Island is ready to offer its tourist experience – things that are truly Cat Island. Cultivating and expanding the quality of experience poses a challenge, but with training and encouraging it can be done. Cat Island needs to get past the “getting something for nothing” mentality. We were always people of character and excellence in whatever we do. Its time to rise and shine and to show the world our rich legacy.
GB: What advice would you give to a young person who is considering a career in tourism?
Christopher: To the young people, tourism is a great opportunity to excel to the max. It gives one the chance to put him or herself on top of the world. One can reap great dividends and lasting benefits. It’s a career that gives one the opportunity to experience other cultures, traveling, meeting new people and learning about their success. It gives one the opportunity to become his or her own boss.
People are always looking for something new and exciting, a place that offers good quality service, friendly people, great foods, clean surroundings and peacefulness. Cat Island is that place. So come to Cat Island; it’s more than sun, sand and sea. It’s about great, friendly people.