GEORGETOWN, Exuma – Tourist air arrivals in Exuma have nearly tripled since 2002, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie said Monday (June 12) at the official opening of the Casino at Emerald Bay in Georgetown, Exuma, the first outside of New Providence and Grand Bahama.
The Prime Minister said the Casino at Emerald Bay, operated by the Pinnacle Group, will be a first class facility catering to the guests of the Four Seasons Hotel and to other visitors to Exuma.
“It will give added value to the Four Seasons as a resort destination and will go a long way in providing that extra amenity to the thousands of quality tourists who now visit Exuma,” Prime Minister Christie said.
He said since the Four Seasons opened in 2003, Exuma and its cays have seen a corresponding increase in visitor arrivals.
The Prime Minister said that air arrivals in Exuma went from 12,564 in 2002 to 13,364 in 2003, to 32,086 in 2004, and to 35,712 in 2005.
“These figures speak for themselves and we in the Government are of the view that the opening of what might be termed a ‘gentlemen’s’ casino will lead to the enhancement of the visitor experience,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the opening of the Casino at Emerald Bay was the third occasion this year he had visited Exuma to participate in events which signal the boom and economic expansion the island is undergoing.
He said the first was the opening of businessman Roy Bowe’s Shopping Plaza, located across the street from the Four Seasons resort, followed a few weeks later by the opening of a branch of the Bank of The Bahamas.
The prime Minister said they all have evolved from the “massive and primary” investment begun and initiated by the Emerald Bay Resort and Marina investment, which to date has invested some $326 million in Exuma.
“This project will continue its development into other phases with further ongoing construction,. This together with the operation of the Four Seasons Hotel is projected to or has already employed some 1,000 persons.
“This has allowed many young Exumians to remain at home and has been a beacon which has brought people from around The Bahamas to work, live, invest and make this island their home,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the opening of the Casino at Emerald Bay has resulted in another 45 persons being directly employed and the spin-off in terms of linkages will be considerable.
The Prime Minister said the Emerald Bay investment is an example of the wisdom of his Government’s philosophy of pursuing other such anchor resort properties throughout The Bahamas.
“It is an idea whose time has come and a philosophy to which my government is firmly committed,” he said.
Prime Minister Christie said that other anchor developments underway across The Bahamas include Ginn development in West End, Grand Bahama; the South Eleuthera Property development in South Eleuthera; Cape Eleurthera development; Sky Beach Resorts just north of Governor’s Harbour, the re-development of the Club Med site at Governor’s Harbour, Montana Holdings at Rum Cay and the Mayaguana Development Company’s joint venture agreement between the I-Group and the Hotel Corporation, which has already led to the direct employment of 45 persons in Mayaguana.
“These and many other investment projects around The Bahamas argue well for the future of our country as it seeks to ensure balanced development which are intended to raise the social and economic bar of our people,” he said.
“We aim to provide opportunities which will enable young Bahamians to remain at home and to seek their livelihoods right at home.
“This policy initiative will have far reaching effects on the sustainability of communities and the quality of life for people living in our islands.”