NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A well-known real estate broker and businessman said the recent news that a number of cruise lines are considering homeporting in The Bahamas has the potential to be “the biggest game-changer in recent history” for the tourism-based Bahamian economy.
Mario Carey, founder and chairman of two real estate firms and his newest undertaking, Mario Carey Ventures, said: “Homeporting has the potential to kickstart and revolutionize The Bahamas’ tourism-based economy.
“This is the time for everyone who is either already operating in the tourism space to look for fresh ideas and figure out ways in which they can benefit through the new model when passengers embark on their cruise from Nassau or Grand Bahama and may decide to stay in The Bahamas following their cruise as well.”
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said last week that three cruise companies have expressed interest in making Nassau their homeport, noting that the economic implications of such a development would be significant.
The news was greeted as a welcome surprise in some local industries.
Carey continued: “The cruise lines believe that the pent-up desire to travel is so great that the market will respond positively to the idea of flying to The Bahamas to board a ship.
“We trust, and I have talked to hoteliers who agree, that the same pent-up desire to get out will entice passengers to extend their vacation with a hotel stay either before or after their trip.
“This means more people will have more time in The Bahamas to enjoy local dining, tours, attractions and excursions, culture and history, shopping. They will have more time for everything from visits to national parks to a fishing trip or a chance to take scuba lessons.
“Homeporting opens up a world of possibilities.”
Carey believes opportunities range from just beyond cottage industries, with creative ideas like local cuisine cooking lessons, making a Junkanoo headpiece or storytelling for children, to much larger markets with outdoor venues for concerts.
“If we, as a nation, explore the possibilities and provide experiences that continue to appeal to a wider and wider market that is being delivered to our doorstep, it could generate such an economic boost that it will even increase homeownership,” said Carey, who has handled nearly $3 billion in transactions over a 35-year career as agent, broker, appraiser, owner of a luxury residential property rental and management company and the first international franchisee for Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate.
“This is a gift we never saw coming,” he said. “It is up to us now to make it work.”