On July 10, 1973, the Islands of the Bahamas, became an independent nation, while, also, staying, as part of the British Commonwealth. The nation started, with limited finances, etc, and small infrastructure. But it also, fortunately, started with a focus, vision, goals, priorities, and marginally, visionary leadership. Sir Lynden Pindling was the George Washington, of this nation, and served as Prime Minister, for the first 25 years, of its own existence. In the early 1980’s, when I was involved in operating and managing, a tourism business, focused on the Bahamas, I had the joy of meeting, for the first time, this awesome individual. We had several conversations over the following, nearly – two decades, and I developed a far better understanding of what our Founding Fathers, and those of most countries, must have, to a degree, underwent. There were certain decisions made from the onset, which led the Bahamas, in the future. These included: 1) Capping the Bahamian dollar to the United States dollar; 2) Mandatory education; 3) A parliamentary, democratic government; 4) An infrastructure plan; 5) Commitment to employment; and, 6) a primary emphasis on banking, tourism, etc.. This article will attempt to apply, some of the lessons learned, in terms of what, the rest of the world, might benefit by.
- Mission and vision of Creator: because there are limited natural resources, and the ability to compete, in terms of exporting goods, is limited. This meant focusing on friendliness, service, and bringing tourists, to return, repeatedly. There were lots of challenges, but when one finds, the number of amazing hotels, restaurants, shops, and so on, and the short – life of this nation, is inspirational!
- How mistakes/ challenges are managed: Things did not always go, as easily, as the government expected. In the mid – 1980’s, the Cable Beach Hotel, and then, Crystal Palace, were assembled, in addition to several other significant projects, but lots of these, were adversely impacted, by the downturn in the world economy. As opposed to give – up, or proceed, negatively, they faced the challenges, admitted there were challenges and issues, but continued, in a concentrated way, towards a better future. When the greatest project, ever planned, for the Caribbean area, was planned, and began, about a decade ago, hopes were high, but the first developer faced economic difficulties, there were many legal battles, etc, but the $4.5 billion, Baha Mar Resort opened, and after, visiting last week, exceeded anyone’s expectations! Persistence, etc, mattered!
- Encourage foreign investment: When the Bahamas, became a country, one of the principal objectives, was to ensure qualified Bahamian employees, received the majority of the tasks, in any undertaking, etc.. That state recognized, the need to promote foreign investment and investors, but, to also, protect taxpayers. Important projects like the Atlantis, the Towne, the Baha Mar, and many others, followed these principles. Many nations and banks, have a substantial economic presence on those Islands, such as: China; the United States; Canada; United Kingdom; etc..
- Infrastructure needs: Roads are designed, and improved, constantly, throughout the nation’s history! Bahamian Pride is real, and has been, during, and its own flag, as explained to me, by Pindling, added 3 colours – blue, for the color of the sky and water; yellow, for the sun; and, black, to represent the skin color, of the vast majority of its citizens. In a country, representing various races, and nationalities/ ethnicities, there’s a relevantly low degree of racial biases, etc..
- Overcome challenges: This nation has proceeded, and overcome many obstacles, because it proceeds, with an attitude and focus, o challenges, rather than problems!
If the Bahamas, in its short history, can be, where it is, and, although, still having to face many future challenges, should not all of us learn some courses? I have witnessed many changes in the almost 40 years, I have visited, and have to admit, I am inspired by the progress, so far!