It's time for an infusion of new energies and plans for 2012, which is an election year in the Bahamas. There's heavy campaigning for new jobs, support for small and medium entrepreneurs, and a drive to reduce taxes in a number of areas, including real estate transactions.
Meanwhile, a new president and board of directors have also been elected at the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, led by Deloitte senior manager John Swain, who's leading the charge with the theme, "Reset, Restart, and Restore," and in his inaugural speech as president has said, "‘We cannot allow the times we live in to define us; we have to define the times.”
There'll be elections as well at the Bahamas Real Estate Association. As members of the property industry, we have to do our part in addressing a number of issues which prospective real estate owners like you must have in mind, like the increase in stamp duty, which went up 2 percent across the board in the 2010-2011 budget, and real estate property tax (see article here).
Although first-time buyers aren't as affected, we acknowledge it as a serious concern. Again, it may be hard to ask any a number of real estate sellers now for a clear outlook on the industry. It remains to be seen, as we too observe progress toward the US elections.
What we do we want to highlight is the optimism of big hotel brands like Carlson-Rezidor in the recovery of the US market (a hotel trade industry article discusses this in detail) and the announcement of their "Ambition 2015" program, which aims to grow their portfolio to over 1,300 hotels (their plans are outlined here). It's an important signal. Not incidentally, we're glad for the business they've given to our islands by hosting their Global Business Conference here just a few days ago.
Other important business meetings have just taken place, like the "Routes Americas 2012", where airlines such as Air China and a Brazilian carrier called TAM Airlines are looking to sign up new routes into the Bahamas. They are just two out of forty-two carriers attending the conference.
Increased airlinks to the Bahamas increase our viability with new markets, reaching farther into Asia and Latin America, and the timing is good, with our international airport in high gear with its $409.5 million renovation project.
We'll continue reporting important business developments as we go along, and we maintain an outlook of cautious optimism. We're not here to sugarcoat the issues; it is in our collective interest to face them head on.