Upgrades on Tap for Downtown Nassau

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Tourism’s Director General Vernice Walkine (right) takes questions from the Bahamian media during a press conference Monday morning. (Photo by Derek Smith)

By: Gladstone Thurston

NASSAU, Bahamas – Downtown New Providence is to be “completely upgraded, reflecting the ambiance and character of Old Nassau,” Ministry of Tourism’s Director General Vernice Walkine said Monday.

Addressing a press conference, Ms. Walkine said Prince George Wharf will be expanded and improved, adding that the harbour is to be dredged to enable a wider turning basin to accommodate the Freedom class of cruise ship by 2009.

“This will signify the start of an entire harbour-front renovation and improvement,” Ms. Walkine said. “Also on the waterfront will be the establishment of a major authentically Bahamian market, providing quality souvenir craft items.”

The three-day Caribbean Marketplace opened Sunday night at the Atlantis resort, Paradise Island. This is the second time it is held in The Bahamas.

Caribbean Marketplace is recognized as the most important tourism marketing event of the year for the Caribbean region.

Ms. Walkine also told of “targeted developments” throughout the islands including Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Abaco.

“The government is committed to the development of environmentally-sensitive low-density resorts in the Out Islands,” she said. “Major infrastructural improvements are planned for a number of our Out Islands, including airport expansion and ferry dock expansion to facilitate inter-island movement.”

The Ministry of Tourism, she added, is “making very important strides” in shaping and retooling visitor experience.

“This is a key priority for our Tourism Ministry and one to which we are paying very close attention. We certainly understand and appreciate the need for enticements and meaningful product content, well beyond the sun, sand and sea of our region,” said Ms Walkine.

She also told of the Ministry of Tourism’s “trail of discovery”.

It permits guests to discover The Bahamas all over again, she noted.

In New Providence, the National Heritage Park in Clifton, for example, is well into the final stages of development.