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Fly-fishing bolsters tourism product

As the Ministry of Tourism looks for ways to diversify the visitor experience, a new focus is being placed on fly-fishing, which reportedly contributes $140 million a year to the Bahamian economy. 

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TheBahamasInvestor.com
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Ministry of Tourism (MOT) continues to diversify its tourism product with a new focus on fly-fishing as a valuable component of the sector, according to Ministry officials.

Figures provided by MOT indicate that the fly-fishing industry is worth around $140 million a year to the Bahamian economy.


Around 12,000 people visit the islands each year to fish and approximately 80 per cent of these become repeat visitors.

“We have the best bonefishing in the world,” says Benjamin Pratt, senior manager in MOT’s Sustainable Tourism Department. “We have the best habitat for it. Our guides are trained and qualified and we have wonderful lodges that provide high quality services.”

The National Fly-Fishing Association was established in August last year with the aim of giving a voice to the industry and is working with MOT to ensure its future.

“All we do will be hand in glove with the national objective with tourism,” says Pratt, who is tipped to become the organization’s executive director when its first annual general meeting is held in June.

“The industry has grown up on the fringe. It has only been the last few years that you are seeing a lot of focus on it. The word is finally getting out that the industry is worth something economically and that it is contributing to the economy.”

MOT’s strategy for building the sector in a sustainable way is to attract a select niche of fishermen rather than flooding the market, which could negatively impact the islands’ marine life.

“It makes sense for us to focus on smaller numbers of high value clients rather than opening up the industry,” says Pratt.

It has also focused on training, launching a guide certification programme in 2000 and working with the Ministry of Education to produce a training programme that will be offered in schools. The course is expected to launch in September, with a trial run in schools in Andros.

cmorris@dupuch.com

Key West Seaplanes, which runs chartered flights to Bimini and other islands throughout The Bahamas, recently expanded its fleet with a custom-designed and custom-built Cessna 206. The award-winning luxury seaplane was featured at the 39th Annual Sun N Fun International Fly-In and Expo held April 9-14, 2013, in Lakeland, Florida.

News highlights during April included positive growth in the GDP figures for 2012, the public offering of $50 million in government stocks and further trade missions and promotional forays into the Latin Market. Read these stories and more in the April news in review bulletin/newsletter.

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