At the invitation of the Bahamas Tourist Office, RCMA Executive Director Dr. Harry Schmidt and Director of Conferences and Events Dean Jones, CMP, in April visited more than a half dozen conference properties in the Bahamas, exploring possible destinations for future RCMA events and also looking at what the country can offer religious conferences in general.
Dr. Schmidt and Jones were accompanied by longtime RCMA member Linville J. Johnson, deputy director, religious market, Bahamas Tourist Office, as well as Regina McGee, editor of.
The group visited the British Colonial Hilton and the Sheraton and Wyndham hotels in the Cable Beach area of Nassau, as well as the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island, the Radisson Grand Lucayan and Pelican Bay hotels on Grand Bahama Island, and Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma. (The Bahamas comprises some 700 islands of varying sizes.)
A highlight of the trip was a visit with the country's minister of tourism and aviation, the Honorable Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who called religious conferences a “natural fit” for the Bahamas, noting that the first people who came to the Bahamas were people seeking religious freedom.
He also stressed that the country is a region, not just a single destination, with different islands providing unique experiences and accommodations for.
The group also met with the marketing team for a major development under construction in Nassau's Cable Beach area, scheduled to open in 2014. The project site includes a new convention center and attached 700-room Hyatt hotel, as well as two other new hotels (Rosewood and Morgan properties), and the existing Sheraton hotel, which has received a $100 million upgrade.
“We could not be more impressed with the hospitality of the Bahamian people,” Dr. Schmidt says, “as well as the great hotels and attractions that the country offers the religious conference market. It was a very productive trip.”
Editor's Note: An “On Location” report on the Bahamas conference facilities will appear in the August issue of Religious Conference Manager.