Myth that Bahamian products are not good enough, must be dispelled

FREEPORT, Bahamas – The myth that Bahamian products are not good enough must be dispelled for good says Mr. Kerry Fountain, Executive Director for the Ministry of Tourism’s Grand Bahama Island Tourism Office.

Mr. Fountain’s comment came as he officially opened a two day Authentic Bahamian Workshop at the Our Lucaya Resort on August 29.

The Ministry of Tourism has as its presenter, Mr. Bruce Baker, a master in the art of jewelry design and everything connected with it.

Mr. Baker has reportedly conducted in excess of 500 workshops throughout the United States over the past twenty-four years on booth designs, sales and presentation for craft artists. He has also been a juror for numerous craft shows.

On Wednesday, August 29 Mr. Fountain also took the opportunity to welcome Ms. Sanique Culmer to his team at the Grand Bahama office of the Ministry of Tourism.

The coordination of the two day workshop was her first assignment. According to Mr. Kerry, she is the Ministry’s point person for Authentically Bahamian in Grand Bahama., and her duties will include planning and coordinating relationships with the relevant government agencies and private sector partners to research, develop and facilitate entrepreneur funding and technical assistance; and to ensure that “endorsed” vendors participate in all on-island and off-shore festivals, exhibitions, group site inspections and destination promotion.

He also informed those assembled that Mr. Culmer will coordinate an annual Authentically “Grand” Bahamian Gift and Craft Show in November and promote the development of the Authentically “Grand” Bahamian products, with emphasis on having quality items produced by craft persons and artisans; and thereby move local entrepreneurs to reach for greater volume production, while maintaining quality as a hallmark.

Mr. Culmer, according to the Tourism executive, has “hit the ground running and has already forged close relationships with officials at the Bahamas Agriculture and Industrial Corporation, and Lily Strachan-Moxey, President of the Grand Bahama Craft Association.

“Together they will bring efficiencies to the developing structure of the local craft industry; and establish standards that we can all be proud to support,” Mr. Fountain said.

Continuing he stated that more and more Bahamians are looking for and finding ways of leaving visitors with a lasting memory of The Bahamas without resorting to selling items made by someone else from somewhere other than the Islands of The Bahamas.

“From fashionable ladies hand bags, to fine jewelry, ornaments, teas, preservatives and much more, Bahamians are finding ways of creating and preserving things Bahamian.

He told the workshop participants that having produced such authentic Bahamian craft pieces, the next step is marketing and how they present their work in such a way as to make it look attractive and tempt consumers to purchase it.

According to Mr. Fountain that is one of the reasons for the gathering and Mr. Baker and Ms. Culmer and others would assist in that area as the sessions will include booth presentation, customer relations, sales and marketing.

“You are going to need these skills because the magic is returning to the nation’s second city. We want you to be ready.

“As we are dealing with a global market, we want our small business persons, whom we support, to be equipped with the skill to professionally package and present their craft items.

“Soon will be launched to showcase authentically Bahamian products and we want you to be ready,” he stated.

Mr. Fountain also informed that the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation, an important partner in the Authentically Bahamian movement, has been holding workshops in souvenir creation, mainly straw and shell work, throughout the islands and that the results were nothing short of amazing by the talent displayed.

“The myth that Bahamian products are not good enough must be dispelled for good. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that millions of tourists who vacation in our islands don’t think so.

“As a matter of fact, according to our surveys, our tourists prefer to patronize authentically Bahamian products. They would tell you that is what they want. They want something from the islands, something indigenous to The Bahamas to take back with them,” he said.

The tourism executive added that based on what they see being exhibited, “that creative Bahamian spirit being expressed in everything from fine hand bags to jewelry to ornaments and much more, they are not to be disappointed.”

He also informed that with ladies taking the lead, Bahamians are now more than ever patronizing Bahamian made products, and that straw handbags have become high fashion in Bahamas.

Mr. Fountain also encouraged Bahamians to take up authentically Bahamian arts and craft as a business.

He further told participants attending the workshop that despite the strides we have made that there is still a long way to go, and that is why we must take full advantage of the insights and instructions of Mr. Baker and others to get to the next level.

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