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Wilchcombe leaves a lasting mark on tourism, Jibrilu says

Former Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu yesterday remembered her old boss, Obie Wilchcombe, as a leader who was dedicated to his country and whose contributions in the tourism sector will leave a lasting mark.

Wilchcombe, 64, died in Grand Bahama on Monday morning. The minister of social services, information and broadcasting, previously served as minister of tourism from 2002 to 2007 and 2012 to 2017.

Jibrilu, who is now CEO of the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, said Wilchcombe played a fundamental role in developing sports tourism.

“… He positioned The Bahamas as a premier sports tourism destination, which attracted several major sporting events to our shores and resulted in significant partnerships, including the innovative multiyear partnership with NBA championship team The Miami Heat,” said Jibrilu, who served as tourism director general from 2014 to 2022.

“His ability to think outside the box resulted in upticks in major markets, and during his tenure, he also introduced and developed key niche markets, including religious, African American and film tourism.

“Beyond his professional achievements, Minister Wilchcombe will be remembered as a nationalist, one who was dedicated to this country, and his people. His belief in Bahamians was admirable, and he believed that we, and tourism professionals in particular, could do the job as well as anyone else, and so he pushed everyone to think bigger and to be their best self. Those who worked closely with him will remember him for his warmth, his charming personality, and commitment to excellence.”

Jibrilu noted that Wilchcombe displayed an “unwavering dedication to promoting our country’s natural beauty, culture, hospitality and most importantly, our talented people”.

“He understood the value of tourism to our destination, as well as the importance of public private partnership, and worked closely with the NPIPB and the wider industry,” she said.

“His 10 year leadership contributed to our country’s phenomenal growth in tourism, with our tourism numbers growing from four million to six million visitors during his tenure.”

The leadership of Carnival Corporation & plc, the owners of Carnival Cruise Line, also fondly recalled Wilchcombe’s charisma and passion for The Bahamas.

“Obie Wilchcombe will be fondly remembered as a positive and constructive partner for the cruise industry in The Bahamas and a tireless advocate for local tourism in general,” Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman Micky Arison said.

“He leaves behind an enduring legacy of maximizing the impact of tourism for the benefit of the Bahamian people – especially those of his constituency of West End, Grand Bahama, and Bimini.”

Carnival CEO Josh Weinstein said, “We join the Bahamian community in mourning the loss of this visionary leader, mentor, and friend.

“We were privileged to have worked closely with Mr. Wilchcombe during both his tenures as Minister of Tourism, where his leadership, charisma, and passion for serving the people of The Bahamas were always evident.”