Mario Carey

Mario Carey ‘Homeporting has potential to revolutionize Bahamian economy’

A leading real estate broker and successful businessman said this week’s breaking news that four cruise lines were considering homeporting in The Bahamas had the potential to be “the biggest game-changer in recent history” for the tourism-based Bahamian economy.

“Homeporting has the potential to kickstart and revolutionize The Bahamas’ tourism-based economy,” said Mario Carey, founder and chairman of two real estate firms and his newest undertaking, Mario Carey Ventures. “This is the time for everyone who is either already operating in the tourism space to look for fresh ideas and figure out ways in which they can benefit through the new model when passengers embark on their cruise from Nassau or Grand Bahama and may decide to stay in The Bahamas following their cruise as well.”

The benefits of becoming a home port have been touted for decades. Cruise lines were traditionally reluctant to ask guests to fly in order to jump on a ship when most of their market lived close enough to a port to drive to it.

So the news that they were willing to change the way they did business as the world begins to emerge from the pandemic-generated virtual travel was greeted as a welcome surprise when revealed by Minister of Tourism Dionisio Daguilar during his budget contribution this week.

For Royal Caribbean, the decision to homeport at least one of its ships was accompanied by other welcome news – that The Bahamas would be the first port of call upon the cruise line’s return to sailing as soon as the Centers for Disease Control gives the green light and, for the first time, it would offer 7night cruises from Nassau.

“The cruise lines believe that the pent-up desire to travel is so great that the market will respond positively to the idea of flying to The Bahamas to board a ship. We trust and I have talked to hoteliers who agree, that the same pent-up desire to get out will entice passengers to extend their vacation with a hotel stay either before or after their trip,” said Carey. “This means more people will have more time in The Bahamas to enjoy local dining, tours, attractions and excursions, culture and history, shopping. They will have more time for everything from visits to national parks to a fishing trip or a chance to take SCUBA lessons. Homeporting opens up a world of possibilities.”

Carey believes opportunities range from just beyond cottage industries with creative ideas like local foods cooking lesson, making a Junkanoo head piece or story telling for children to much larger market with outdoor venues for concerts.

“If we as a nation explore the possibilities and provide experiences that continue to appeal to a wider and wider market that is being delivered to our doorstep, it could generate such an economic boost that it will even increase home ownership,” said Carey, who has handled nearly $3 billion in transactions over a 35-year career as agent, broker, appraiser, owner of a luxury residential property rental and management company and the first international franchisee for Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate.

“This is a gift we never saw coming. It is up to us now,” he said, “to make it work.”