Exuma ‘hasn’t scratched surface’ of boating sector
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: Oct 21, 2013
A former Chamber of Commerce executive on Exuma believes the economic potential for the island could be much stronger once the boating market is better served.
Currently, boaters in Georgetown invest more than $500,000 annually to have their vessels moored in Elizabeth Harbour. And over the years, Reginald Smith has found that boating sector revenues remain relatively untapped.
“We haven’t begun to scratch the surface of how we can access this. The boaters hold a special place I think in Georgetown in particular. Between now and April of next year we will host some 300 plus sailing yachts in Elizabeth Harbour, which is without a doubt one of the best in the world. The economy of Exuma depends heavily on this type of traffic,” he revealed during a press conference to announce the upcoming 8th annual Exuma Business Outlook.
“Boating is very important to Exuma, probably as important as land-based tourism or anything else. This generates approximately $500,000 for Georgetown. While it may not sound like a lot, it happens consistently. So every year, businesses have come to depend on it. And we have not tapped into that at all.”
Smith also pointed out that Exuma is challenged in regards to financing for startups.
“We’re stagnant in terms of moving forward on any financial front. We need to grow our island but we can't do it unless there is some change in access to financing,” according to Smith.
“There is a desire to create business, a desire to exercise the entrepreneurship inherent in the community but there is no access to finance. There are no creators of jobs outside of the hotels, certainly not in farming, not in the building industry right now.”
Under the theme, “Sustainable Development for Exuma: Finding the Right Mix of People and Strategies”, the one-day symposium will take place on October 23 at the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Georgetown.
Representatives from the ministries of tourism and agriculture, Bank of The Bahamas, Sandals Emerald Bay and small business, will be addressing the forum.
Organizer and President of TCL Group Joan Albury said the meeting seeks to put a spotlight on the sustainability of economic development not only in Exuma, but throughout the country.