Friday, March 11, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
To ensure sustainable economic growth in the future, Grand Bahama must move away from courting cruise ships in favour of attracting business travellers, according to chief executive officer of Butler’s Food World, Jeffrey Butler.
Butler, who owns the Butler Group of Companies, says hosting trade shows and international business events could help offset any drop-off in tourism revenue.
“We need to stop concentrating solely on resort tourism. Commercial trade tourism, coupled with our existing resort products, makes a lot more sense,” he said in his address to the Grand Bahama Business Outlook conference last month. “This marriage would bring more working visitors to Grand Bahama with a lot more disposable income.”
The CEO said that the business community was interested in partnering with hotels, conference centres and cruise ship operators to bring this type of revenue to the island and pointed out that attracting business travellers to the island could encourage them to return for personal trips, recommend the destination and even invest in real estate.
In addition, Butler said he believes that these types of visitors have significantly more disposable income and are more likely to spend, using their business expense accounts, than families.
“We have spent millions a year luring cruise ship passengers and guests and we all know that they do not spend a lot of money,” he said. “This professional dimension of trade people from around the world is just a whole other ball game and we do not have to give up one to get the other.”
Overall Butler remains optimistic about Grand Bahama’s recovery from the recent recession saying: “The best time to invest in anything is when it is soft.
“What we need now, like any business, is cash flow. We need to stimulate the economy and create jobs now. It is going to be great in a year or two–with the US economy and everything coming back.”
Additional speakers at the 13th annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook conference included Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Zhivargo Laing, who gave the keynote address; director of the National Insurance Board Algernon Cargill; and director of policy and regulation at the Utilities Regulation and Competiton Authority Kathleen Riviere-Smith.