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Published on : Thursday, December 5, 2013
Tourism Minister Obediah H. Wilchcombe on Tuesday suggested that Bahamians everywhere put on their armour in the fight against crime and other illicit acts, and start by showing love and respect for each other.
The Grand Bahama native and Member of Parliament for West End and Bimini was the guest speaker at the Dec. 3, 2013, BahamaHost graduation, at the Grand Lucayan Resort.
Some 250 plus persons comprising Sessions 052 – 061 graduated from the Ministry of Tourism sponsored course, having participated in forty hours of training, specifically designed to improve the country’s tourism product.
Minister Wilchcombe recalled growing up in a peaceful nation and questioned why peace has been allowed to become war, and love has been allowed to become hate. He noted that the country moved towards majority rule and independence and there was no bloodshed.
“Subsequent to that, there was no one found on the streets. The thought of unruly behaviour just did not exist,” he said. He said that each year over the past three years, including this year, there have been more than 100 murders.
“How is it that a mother, 28-years-old, can be sitting on her porch and can be executed? And, why would a young teenage boy walking from school be gunned down? It this our country,” he asked?
Mr. Wilchcombe recalled his early days as a young journalist when he and colleagues would sit down daily, wondering if there was any news out there.
“We were wondering if we could get a story, and then we would do the year end report and it would be one, maybe a murder, and maybe a traffic fatality, and we would call that a good year.”
The Tourism Minister said there is no way that Grand Bahama should be on a watch list, or on an advisory list of the United States of America. He said it was almost unbelievable to hear that Grand Bahama is a place one must be careful about, because there have been criminal incidences involving tourists.
“Could you imagine I am laying up in a hotel room in New York, about to attend the meeting, and that comes on the news? Can you imagine how a person like me, that walks with the ultimate pride and love of my country feels?
Minister Wilchcombe told the graduates that service is from the heart, and if there is no love and care for each other, the performance put on for the tourists is meaningless. He said the problems existing today is a result of that lack of love and although the nation has produced some outstanding athletes, doctors, educators, hoteliers and other talented professionals, There is no belief in each other.
Mr. Wilchcombe said now-a-days all the leaders in business, tourism, policing, and more, are all Bahamians, and that there was a time when that would not have been possible, particularly on Grand Bahama Island. He noted that Bahamians have come a long way in a short period of time, since gaining independence in 1973.
He said the question now is, “how far do we want to go, and how much are we prepared to become leaders of our destination, leaders of our destiny and leaders of each other.”
The Tourism Minister reminded those in attendance that when one becomes a graduate, “it means that you have risen to a particular level. What is next? Do we understand that graduation means that I am prepared for the next step, I am not completed?
“Do we understand that each day when we improve our ability, we are improving for our country, and have you stopped and given thought to this simple fact that you are now members of that elite squad of tourism officials?
“Tourism is our number one industry. It is the bread and butter of our country. It is the industry that was developed and introduced by men who came before us, the forefathers of our nation. And when The Bahamas thought about tourism many nations thought it was servitude. They pushed it aside and said it could not work.
“In fact, many countries in the Caribbean thought that tourism would be taking us back to the days of colonialism, but in truth and in fact, many have now come to realise that tourism is that industry that works,” he said.
Mr. Wilchcombe pointed out that last year more than one billion tourists travelled the world spending more that $1.1 trillion dollars.
He said The Bahamas welcomed almost six million visitors last year and that tourism is the industry, withstanding the difficulties in world, would become the leading industry.
Mr. Wilchcombe said he and his ministry have travelled extensively to various parts of the world to bring business to The Bahamas and having done so it is up to Bahamians to do their part.
He said his ministry is also working to ensure that everyone gets a piece of the tourism pie and that everyone should come together and work out their differences.
“We could sit and dissolve more problems as opposed to rowing about them, fighting about them, because every time we go in the newspaper, every time we go on the radio, every time we decide that we are going to have this nasty fight, we are sending messages, we are influencing children. We are telling children that is the way you ought to behave, as opposed to going and working things out.
Mr. Wilchcombe said the government is not going to stop until it gets Grand Bahamians back to work, because the island has suffered much, and every single day they are working to cause the economy of Grand Bahama to grow.
“And so I have come tonight with a simple request that we begin to work together for this time of change. This recovery depends on all of us and if you are serious about the work and you are serious about the classes you have just attended, the dedication and the moment you have spent learning about your country, then your performance will determine how successful we are. Don’t talk it, walk it,” he said.