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Call for greater diversity in tourism

President of Atlantis International Bahamas George Markantonis (pictured) has urged the tourism industry to become more creative and innovative to bring passengers off cruise ships, and bring more business to the country. (Photo©Dupuch Publications/Harry Cutting) 

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TheBahamasInvestor.com
Monday, January 14, 2013
Monday, January 14, 2013

The head of The Bahamas’ biggest employer in the tourism sector has urged the industry to become more creative and innovative to draw passengers off cruise ships and bring more business to the country.

President of Atlantis International Bahamas George Markantonis told the Bahamas Business Outlook conference last week that the sector needs to be more diverse and offer visitors something they cannot find anywhere else in the region, saying: “We need more creative ideas. We need bigger diversity in our product. You cannot have the same retailers everywhere nor the same restaurants.”


Atlantis Paradise Island is leading the charge and investing in new areas as part of its business strategy over the next few years, says Markantonis. The resort has met with government to discuss changes to the gaming regulations which, the Atlantis president says, will “modernize our gaming product to stay competitive.”

The 4,000-room resort will soon offer guests the chance to place a bet from a portable device anywhere on the property. In addition, it is hoping to target the lucrative sports betting market, which is illegal on the US east coast. “The illegal sports betting market is a monster. [It] could be worth billions,” said Markantonis, who went on to explain that casinos currently account for 17 per cent of Atlantis’s business.

According to Markantonis, bookings for the Paradise Island mega-resort are picking up, helping it to recover from a difficult few years which saw parent company Kerzner International sell the property to Brookfield Asset Management in November 2011. The hotelier acknowledged the impact the resort, which employs 7,735 staff, has on the rest of the country saying: “When we catch a cold, The Bahamas gets pneumonia. We learned that the hard way.”

“The last five years have been tough,” he continued. “When the economy crashed, we had to resort to a lot of creative ideas to survive, but this past year has probably been our best since 2008. It is the first glimmer of a great ascendancy.”

“Bookings over the last three months go off the charts. 2015 is really looking good right now.”

cmorris@dupuch.com

A British couple are touring the world renewing their wedding vows in each country to raise money for charity. On December 12, 2012, they had a ceremony in Exuma. Watch a video of the wedding here.

New water park development on the island is one of a number of projects that will help bolster Grand Bahama's economy, according to chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority Ian Fair. (Photo©Dupuch Publications/Harry Cutting)

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