Bahamas tourism challenged by new passport rules

The Bahamas government has expressed concern about tourism challenges from the new passport rules. The new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires US citizens have a passport when they travel overseas to the Bahamas, to facilitate reentry to the United States. This is probably a homeland security precaution, but the PM of the Bahamas has expressed concern that it may be creating a leveling of the competitive framework:
"Erosion of this advantage when coupled with the introduction of low-cost, low fare airlift provided by carriers like Jet Blue and Spirit Airlines makes the wider Caribbean much more accessible and affordable to the US consumer," he said.
Competitiveness is not just an issue for the Bahamas but concerns the Caribbean nations in general, particularly as air fares make various destinations equally compelling. The PM warned that past economic success was no guarantee of future economic success, and that it would be a mistake to be "ostriches." According to his remarks, the Bahamian economy chose to focus on tourism and in financial services rather than in merchandise and it will take strategic thinking to keep these domains competitive in a changing market. Regional neighbors dominated by tourism and financial services industries are no doubt thinking along similar lines.

From the Bahamas to Barbados to St. Lucia and beyond, all are impacted by the forces of globalization, and the increasing ease and speed of travel and communication. Markets that once enjoyed primacy or relative isolation are now being juxtaposed against a variety of additional economic competitors, and new strategic thinking is required to keep pace with the changing global economic environment.
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