When it comes to learning about what makes the Bahamas so special, it’s pretty hard to top what the Honorable Dionisio D’Aguilar has to say. He’s the Bahamas Tourism and Aviation Minister (who has just been named Minister of Tourism of the Year by The Caribbean Journal) who shared his insider knowledge with me when I was in Nassau recently.
What are some of your favorite spots in the Bahamas?
The Looking Glass Bridge where the deep blue of the open Atlantic and the aquamarine of the Caribbean is one. Meanwhile, the Exumas have Thunderball Cay and places where the water mixes creates these amazing sandbars. And you’ve got the charm and the quaintness of Harbour Island.
Then if you like diving, Andros has the third largest barrier reef in the world. But you need time. It’s a lot sleepier. It’s a little bit harder to get to. The accommodations might not be so five-star. But it’s amazing. People go down there to bone fish. Meanwhile Inagua has the largest flamingo colony in this hemisphere. I mean, those are authentic, off-the-beaten path experiences.
What are you most proud of when it comes to tourism?
I’m most proud of the fact that the number of stopover visitors (who spend 20 times more than the cruise ship passengers) is growing by double digits, not only in Nassau, but in a number of islands throughout the commonwealth. That is very economically impactful because these are the people that are spending the money.
The family islands (Abacos, Eleuthera, the Exumas) also have a very loyal following. Lots of people are repeat visitors who love it so much they invest in second homes here.
How are the family islands developing?
What we as the government are focusing on is infrastructure. We are planning to put a brand new airport in Exumas. In fact we probably have the most airports per capita in the world. What that means it is very expensive to run the schedule. Whereas in Barbados, we probably have the same population as them, one airport, on island. We’ve got one here, one in Freeport, three in Abacos, three in Eleuthera. So we have a lot of airports.
Last question. Is buying a second home in the Bahamas a good investment?
Absolutely. Property prices, generally in the Bahamas, have remained quite resilient. Let’s just take Nassau as an example owners at Albany have always done very, very well. And of course, owners at Baker’s Bay in the Abacos have done extremely well too.