Nassau, The Bahamas – The craft industry is a very lucrative business, however, The Bahamas is not fully taking advantage of the opportunities available.
This was the message delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development Philip Davis during the 8th Annual Bahamas National Craft general meeting and business seminar, Oct. 30, 2013 at Superclubs Breezes.
“Craft in The Bahamas is a multi-million business,” said Mr. Davis. “But the Bahamas is yielding but a fraction of the true potential of the craft industry. We cannot be satisfied with the present state of affairs.”
He said that there is a need to take drastic measures in order for the country to take full advantage of the industry. He challenged Bahamian artisans to pursue ‘a greater share’ of this profitable industry.
“In order to make that change, there has to be a paradigm shift in our thinking,” said Mr. Davis. “There needs to be a change in our overall approach. You will have a greater appreciation for what I am saying when you take a good look at the entire craft industry of The Bahamas.”
He also stressed that while there has to be a ‘Bahamian’ focus to the local craft industry, Bahamian craft must be ‘tourist-centric’ given that over five million tourists visit the islands annually.
“The Government of The Bahamas spends a lot of money each year in advertisement designed to attract tourists to The Bahamas,” he said. “This represents a huge captive market for Bahamians involved in the craft industry. But we will not realise the true potential of this market until Bahamians own the craft industry in The Bahamas – the commodity; the goods, the service and the experience – must all be Bahamian. It is only then that we will get the best return on our investment.”
The minister also mentioned the ongoing debate about whether non-Bahamian products should be sold in the craft market. He said that it is not an ideology to which he subscribes” and raises concerns.
“This practice represents a huge economic loss to not only your Bahamian craftsmen and craftswomen but also to the entire Bahamian economy,” said Mr. Davis. “As long as this attitude persists there will be a shortfall as opposed to the windfall we are striving for.”