The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation unveiled a proposed master plan for sustainable tourism and business development for the island of Inagua during a presentation at the British Colonial Hilton Monday.

The effort is spearheaded by the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Bahamas National Trust and Inagua residents.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation the Hon. Neko Grant said, “Sustainable tourism development is important to the Government of The Bahamas. We understand that ecotourism, nature and adventure, culture and other aspects of sustainable tourism are the growth markets of the future.”

“The Bahamas, and particularly the Out Islands, are well positioned to benefit from that growth if we can create the right kind of environment to attract these visitors,” he said, adding that this has been the objective of the work carried out through the Inagua Sustainable Project.

According to the IDB, the broad objective is to reduce outward migration from Inagua through creation of economic alternatives for residents there.

The objective of the project is to begin the implementation process, focused in the first phase primarily on micro-enterprise development, product development, investment promotion, and marketing.

“Inagua is of strategic concern to the Government of The Bahamas, given its location at the Southern end of The Bahamas archipelago,” the IDB said.

In an assessment spearheaded by the IDB in 2004, sustainable tourism focused on nature, bird watching, sport fishing and soft adventure, and was identified as an industry with “significant potential”.

Minister of Public Works & Transport the Hon. Earl Deveaux said his ministry has oversight of the issues relating to accommodating the investment – power, roads, water, housing and things relating to long-term development, health care and education.

Mr. Deveaux also noted that the project is to take into consideration the “sensitive and unique features” of Inagua, which is home to the country’s national bird – the Flamingo. Also located on the 600 square mile island is the Morton Salt plant. The Island is home to indigenous birds, wild donkeys, protected wetlands and various other native species.

“The master plan will also shape the Government’s policy with respect to what kind of investments are being approved for Inagua,” Mr. Deveaux said.

The master plan, which is in draft form, was presented by Jim Phillips, a consultant with Solimar International; a sustainable tourism consultancy firm. Based in Washington, D.C., the firm is “dedicated” to promoting the goals of sustainable tourism by providing marketing, sales and consulting services to tourism businesses, associations, development agencies and national tourism authorities.

“This group is intended to review the master plan and shape it so that it produces a dynamic footprint to accommodate long-term development. Its specific plan related to tourism identified some of the issues that are necessary to be addressed in order to accommodate sustainable tourism,” Mr. Deveaux said

“They make a fundamental point with respect to energy, that Inagua has a capacity to produce renewable energy from wind because of its sustained wind speed that would accommodate power generators,” Mr. Deveaux said.

The master plan is to be completed in the fall and tabled in parliament. It is being funded by the IDB at an estimated cost of $350,000.