Prime Minister Philip Davis’s Remarks at the Rededication of the Queen’s Staircase

Good evening, everyone.

It is a blessing to see so many familiar faces, in such a beautiful setting.

On my way here, I was reflecting on how this impressive monument came about. 

Though its name calls back to Queen Victoria, whose reign began as slavery in the British Empire ended, the Queen’s Staircase was carved by enslaved persons of African descent. We may not know their names, or how many toiled to produce this masterpiece, but we can admire and honour their handiwork, which has survived some 230 years.  

The origin story of the sixty-six steps may not be news to many of you. 

We Bahamians, after all, tend to know our history well.

We have a good memory – maybe even too good!

Too few of our visitors, however, leave our shores with a similar level of awareness.

This has to do with the tourism model we inherited. 

Caribbean vacations have long been framed as escapes – as opportunities to ‘forget it all’. Many tourists come here, as a result, just to relax. 

While it’s perfectly fine that some visitors fall in this category, it should not be true for all. 

New, multi-pronged approaches will be fundamental if our tourism product is to remain compelling and competitive. 

But innovation is not just better for tourists, it is also better for Bahamians. And I am not only talking in economic terms. We must guarantee that, first and foremost, our service industries serve us. 

The model that crystallised as the Royal Victoria Hotel opened its doors in 1861 did not guarantee Bahamian empowerment. And later models did not sufficiently account for emerging trends, like rising interest in culinary, wellness, and ecotourism. 

The new model outlined in our ‘Blueprint for Change’ takes all this into account. 

It incentivises Bahamian-owned ventures, and foregrounds Bahamian culture. It also recognises the importance of heritage tourism, which is booming all around the world. 

There’s no reason it shouldn’t be booming in The Bahamas, too. 

Rejuvenating the Queen’s Staircase is just the start. The Water Tower and Fort Fincastle are on the way!

I commend the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board (NPIPB) for getting the ball rolling with their sizable  investment into the tangible cultural heritage of The Bahamas.

I look forward to more private sector entities playing a part in the restoration and upkeep of heritage sites throughout our shared archipelago.  

I also extend my sincere appreciation to the Antiquities Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC), the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Works, Atlantis, Elevation Plumbing, and all the Bahamian-owned businesses that contributed to the success of this project. Baha Mar as well.

My friends, as a nation blessed with a storied past, we stand to gain so much from a new era of heritage tourism. Here we have the sixty-six steps, but I can easily name sixty-six more historical sights on the island of New Providence alone. 

Let us celebrate and safeguard them all. Let us show our pride by keeping them clean. 

To close, I have heard it said that in our region, the sea is History. 

But ladies and gentlemen, let it be known that so is the land. 

Thank you and God bless you all.