By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
The official launch of the Port Lucaya Marketplace Xperience on April 19 will signal the return of live Bahamian entertainment at the Count Basie Square and an Authentic experience for visitors and Residents of Grand Bahama.
The event – created through a partnership between the Port Lucaya Marketplace, the Ministry of Grand Bahama and the Ministry of Tourism – will feature a live band, fashion show, conch demonstration, limbo, and Junkanoo.
It will take place between 9am to 2pm daily during the months of April, May, and June. It is expected to invigorate the Marketplace and stimulate economic activity to bring relief to struggling straw vendors and Tenants.
Grand Bahama Minister Ginger Moxey told vendors and tenants early this week in the square that the Port Lucaya Marketplace plays a critical role in the Restoration of the Grand Bahama.
“We see a bustling Port Lucaya where entertainment is non-stop and vendors have money in their pockets,” she said. “It is indeed Grand Bahama’s time, and with this Davis-Cooper administration, we are empowered to move our island forward. I assure you of my commitment to Grand Bahama and its progress. ”
A spokesperson for the Port Lucaya Marketplace said: “We heard the cries of tenants and vendors that we need more entertainment and things to do when the (tourists) visit our Shores and Marketplace. . .and we are going to bring back the Miracle city to GBI. ”
When Ms Moxey and Minister of Tourism Chester Cooper toured the Port Lucaya Marketplace last month they saw and heard the plight of straw vendors there. The vendors said the lack of entertainment and beach access in the area has resulted in fewer visitors.
Last month, Ms Moxey announced that the government would give monetary assistance to hurting straw vendors at the Port Lucaya Marketplace and other industry workers on that island.
She said the initiative will cost the government $ 177,000, with payments to be made in the sum of $ 500 to vendors at Port Lucaya Marketplace, the Farmer’s Market located downtown, the Fish Fry site in Eight Mile Rock and workers in the harbor area.
The first 50 vendors received the emergency grant on Friday 8 April.
“We visited the beach access (on Sunday) and set a plan in motion to make the area viable for tourists and vendors,” she told the vendors this week.
“We are in ongoing meetings to make Grand Bahama the home of events and entertainment. I see Grand Bahama as the events and entertainment center of The Bahamas where we experience year-round events and year-round income for our economy.
“We are in ongoing talks with airlines to increase lifts from key cities in the US and Canada. We are creating new experiences on Grand Bahama. We are Relentless in promoting Grand Bahama around the world. We are promoting an orange economy to support Bahamian entrepreneurs, artists, artisans, creatives and product providers to help promote them and increase opportunities for many. ”
The vendors were encouraged by Lonzinia Bethel, of the Bahamas Agricultural Industrial Corporation in Freeport, to ensure that visitors receive Authentic Bahamian experiences and products when they come to Port Lucaya.
She explained that a review of tourist exit reports show that visitors want a genuine connection to the places they visit.
“They want to walk away with an Authentic feeling. We need you to step into the Spotlight with innovative and creative ideas. You can no longer take the Stickers off trinkets from China, the Philippines and Malaysia and put a Bahamas sticker on it, ”she said.
Ms Bethel urged vendors to also take advantage of the handicraft classes offered at BAIC to help them create Authentic Bahamian Souvenirs. They were also told to upgrade their knowledge of the country by participating in the Bahamas Host program.
Ms Moxey got boys in Grand Bahama for growth and development and urged people not to sit on the guidelines and complain, but to become involved.
She also highlighted some investments that are expected soon, saying the government is in final negotiations with investors on the sale of the Grand Lucayan and that they are working in partnership with the Carnival Corporation for the groundbreaking to establish a new cruise port next month.
She said the government will soon launch the “Beautiful Grand Bahama” project, an empowerment program where some 300 people are expected to be employed in various capacities for a 12-week period.