Interview with Obie Wilchcombe, Bahamas Minister of Tourism

By Paul Joseph

The task of promoting The Bahamas as a place to visit hardly seems like the toughest job in the world. Indeed, with 5 million visitors descending on the country each year, it has already proved itself as a truly international destination.

In the year of its 40th anniversary, The Bahamas has also been keen to highlight its fascinating and often tumultuous history, culminating in its evolution into one of the world’s most idyllic places to visit or live.

On our visit to The Bahamas in July, we sat down with Obie Wilchcombe, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, to discuss the country’s unique past, the key to its success as a tourist destination, and how it can keep on growing.

“I think what we should appreciate is our history,” he said. “When we began the tourism industry 50 years ago many of the Caribbean countries thought it was more to do with servitude than service. They didn’t want to focus on it. They concentrated on other sectors of the economy, but we focussed on tourism and over the years we’ve used tourism as the principle industry to drive the growth of our country.”

He continued: “Now over the last 10-15 years we’ve seen a growth in interest from the rest of the region. So we have competition from Jamaica, from the Dominican Republic, from Antigua, all the other countries in the Caribbean, and of course now being the number one industry in the world the truth is we’re competing with the world.

“We have to find creative ways to promote each island, because it’s not just Nassau or Paradise Island, it’s not just Grand Bahama, and the only thing that is the same are the Bahamian people.
We believe they are our greatest charm. We started with sun, sand and sea, and then the people. We believe that over the years we’ve understood the importance of tourism to the building of our economy and the Bahamian people have been major players, and so today we are continuing to develop the product.

“Heritage tourism is working for us, religious tourism also because we do have a spiritual component in our country. Then there’s sports tourism because of the fact that people can have their playground here and play whatever sport they want. We’re reaching out to ensure the world knows that The Bahamas has it all to offer.”

Watch the full video interview with Obie Wilchcombe above this article. 

By Paul Joseph