BIMINI – As growth of employment slows in the Bahamas, Bimini Bay Resort and Marina has a different outlook that focuses on doubling its current staff this year and putting much effort into hospitality training; techniques will include schooling staff in culinary classes, customer service and self development courses among others, and seeking qualified professional individuals for positions in different specialty areas.

According to the Annual Labor Force and Household Survey, The unemployment rate in Grand Bahama increased from 8.3 percent to 8.8 percent in 2007; but in contrast, Bimini Bay Resort has a staff directory of nearly 200 Bahamians, most coming from Nassau and Freeport, and has plans to hire at least another 100 over the next year.

“I was looking for work for a long time before I found Bimini Bay Resort and I have never learned so much in my life,” states current wedding coordinator Nathalie Rutherford. It’s a tough economy out there right now but Bimini is seeing better days. We have a lot of tourists and I have a large workload. I couldn’t be happier with my current position.”

Averaging about 10 new hires a month, the resort plans to fill positions ranging from front desk managers to security officers, teaching them to hold successful and stable positions in the hospitality industry and allowing them to train with the finest. To date, Johnson & Wales University has been commissioned by the resort to hold a two-week training session in the beginning of 2008 with future courses to be implemented into a regular training curriculum for employees.

In regards to tourism, the Minister for Finance, Zhivargo Laing, states, “the growth rate for the Bahamian economy had indeed slowed in 2007 to 3.1 percent, down from 3.4 percent in 2006.” Laing continues, ”Arrivals to The Bahamas were reduced by 3.8 percent to 3.93 million in the first 10 months of the year in contrast to the 0.5 percent expansion in the previous year, as all of the major markets – New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands – registered declines.

Bimini Bay Resort and Marina has experienced just the opposite. Published tourism numbers in 2007 for the Out Islands indicate that air arrivals to the island of Bimini are up by 32 percent compared to air arrivals in Abaco, Andros, Cat Cay, Cat Island and Exuma – all which are down when compared to 2006 numbers, reported from the Bahamas Hotel Association. And, more local Biminites are opening stores on the island as the economy continues to boom.