By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
FREEPORT - GRAND BAHAMA. Grand Bahama could be "turning a corner" in its yachting industry, already recording increased numbers of boaters from the United States and Canada during the first week of 2011.
One of the facilities experiencing a boost in business for the new year is the Port Lucaya Marina.
Ryan Knowles, co-manager of the marina, said they were extremely pleased with the number of boats that docked at the facility for the beginning of 2011.
"We were quite pleased with the number of boats we had for the new year period, considering how bad things were for the past couple of years.
"It seems we are starting to turn a corner now, and starting to see some boats coming over again," he said.
The marina, which was acquired by the Grand Bahama Yacht Club several years ago, consists of just over 105 slips. It is equipped with running water, cable television, wireless internet, showers and a fuel dock among other amenities.
Mr Knowles reported that the marina received some 60 boaters last week, recording a nearly 60 per cent occupancy.
He noted that most of the boaters brought family and friends with them and stayed in the hotels.
"Restaurants and businesses in the Lucaya area also benefitted," he added.
Mr Knowles said the Grand Bahama Yacht Club and Port Lucaya Marina participate in about three to four boat shows a year in Florida to promote the facilities in Grand Bahama.
They offer special rates during certain times of the year to attract boaters when there is a lull in business.
Mr Knowles said they also try to encourage boaters to make the marina their home port.
He said that boaters are very impressed with the staff and the condition of the marina facilities.
The yachting industry continues to be an important sector for the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA).
The BMA is currently developing a Bahamian yacht registry, with the Law Reform and Review Commission now in the process of "tidying up" draft legislation for it.
Environment Minister Earl Deveaux said the code for the yacht registry has already been adopted and the fee schedule allows the BMA to treat these vessels differently from the heavy-duty ships on its main registry.
"We're now in a position where if someone wants to register their yacht in the Bahamas we have a code to accommodate that," the minister said. "We structured that fee to make us more competitive," he said.