Visiting Journalists Explore Grand Bahama on Familiarization Trip
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, February 3, 2020 — The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA) recently partnered with the Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board (GBITB) to host a pair of journalists on a familiarization visit to the island.
Grand Bahama served as the last stop for travel writers Melanie Reffes and Gay Nagle Myers, who attended the Caribbean Travel Marketplace event in Nassau and took advantage of the familiarization tours offered by The Bahamas’ various promotion boards. Reffes, a Montreal-based travel writer for USA Today, and Myers, a Travel Weekly contributing editor from Virginia, are no strangers to the island but chose to revisit to see Grand Bahama’s progress.
The visit started with breakfast at Taino by the Sea where the travel writers interviewed Vanessa Neely, operator of Taino Beach Resort & Clubs. Following the meal, they met with the minister of state for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson, to talk about Grand Bahama’s current tourism product and upcoming plans for the destination.
Caribbean travel writers Melanie Reffes (L) and Gay Nagle Myers (R) visit Anthony Hanna, proprietor of Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience, for lunch during a familiarization tour of Grand Bahama.
Lunch was served at Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience, where the journalists caught up with proprietor Anthony Hanna, whom they both met on previous visits to Grand Bahama. This stop on the itinerary was particularly exciting for Reffes, a nominating judge for USA Today’s 10Best list, as Hanna’s Conch Experience is once again nominated for Best Caribbean Beach Bar. The bar was a 10Best 2019 winner in the beach bar category.
“It was my honor to nominate him and I was so happy to see him again,” Reffes said. “He’s the same crazy guy that we all love. His beach bar embodies what the vacation fantasy is all about. For that reason, he is an ambassador for tourism.”
Reffes and Myers also stopped by Banana Bay Restaurant, which is nominated by 10Best for Best Restaurant in the Caribbean. While there, they sampled the restaurant’s signature banana bread and met with Italian owner Danilo Rulli.
“The multi-diversity is very important for my Canadian readers, particularly because we’re such a multicultural country,” Reffes said of the island's residents. “So many folks here speak several languages and to see a restaurant owner from Italy is a very welcoming thing for Canadians because we have many nationalities in our country. So, we see that here and it’s an immediate ‘I feel right at home here’.”
After some downtime at host hotel Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach All-Inclusive Resort, the journalists ended the evening with dinner at The Stoned Crab where they met with the GBITB board of directors and BMOTA representatives.
“We’re so happy that people are coming to see Grand Bahama Island,” said Steven Johnson, general manager for the BMOTA Grand Bahama office. “These fam trips are very important to Grand Bahama. We have top journalists from USA Today and Travel Weekly. They’re here to basically tell the story of Grand Bahama and write stories about their experiences. So, we’re hosting them and showing them why it’s better in The Bahamas, so they can go back and tell their readers.”
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Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation