Gov. throws weight behind Pompey

D’Aguilar says third-annual event, from October 6-9, ‘ticks all the boxes’ as it expands into National Heroes Day Weekend celebration

The Bahamian government threw its weight behind the third annual Run for Pompey earlier this month during an official press conference in the nation’s capital.

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From left: Jeff Todd, Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., Dashwell Flowers, Vice President at BAF Financial & Insurance (Bahamas) Ltd, Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Pauline Davis-Thompson, two-time gold medalist and patron of Run for Pompey, Kevin Taylor, co-founder of Run for Pompey and Diane Phillips, founder of Diane Phillips & Associates. PHOTO: Jason Mcdowall / Bahamas Local

With an office in the Ministry of Tourism buzzing with reporters, the new Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Dionisio D’Aguilar, declared Exuma “the most beautiful place on the world” and told the press core that Run for Pompey “ticks all the boxes” of a worthwhile event in The Bahamas. The annual race, held on Great Exuma from October 6 to October 9, is not only an authentic celebration of local history and culture, but an important driver of sports tourism in the area.

The event also raises money for an annual scholarship and all students run for free.

“The images of running along the waterfront with the clear blue-green-turquoise  waters of Exuma in the background are priceless,” D’Agulilar said.

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Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas Minister of Tourism and Aviation.   PHOTO: Jason Mcdowall / Bahamas Local

“That is the kind of publicity that happens organically and no amount of money that you throw at it can equal its impact and the impressions it makes. It feels real and because it does, it feels inviting.”

He praised Run for Pompey in its promotion of the Family Islands, the economic stimulus it creates as well as its ode to arguably the most important hero in Bahamian history.

In 1830, Pompey, a 32-year-old slave, defied a transfer order on Exuma that would have separated 77 men, women and children from their families. While his rebellion was eventually squashed, it is widely seen as a key moment in the Bahamian fight for freedom.

To commemorate his memory, Run for Pompey features races for all ages, skill levels and abilities, including the 2K “George Town Dash”, 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon and the country’s only 50K ultra marathon. All races are professionally timed. Past events have attracted hundreds of runners from various countries, including Canada, the United States, the UK and The Bahamas.

Perhaps biggest development this year will be the involvement of the National Family Island Regatta Committee. Regatta, the largest event

in Exuma, which takes place every April, will take over all entertainment in the park after the race. Runners and festival-goers can expect a junior regatta in Elizabeth Harbour, with music, food and a bar.

For the third year in a row, legendary “Golden Girl” Pauline Davis Thompson will serve as Run for Pompey’s patron, draping medals around each and every neck at the finish line.

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Gold Medalist, Pauline Davis-Thompson, patron of Run for Pompey. PHOTO: Jason Mcdowall / Bahamas Local

She also provides a special keynote address at Grand Isle Resort & Spa’s pasta night for runners the night before the race. Davis-Thompson was also in attendance at this month’s press conference to offer remarks, along with Dashwell Flowers from BAF Financial and event co-founder Kevin Taylor.

The event is supported by three-time title sponsor BAF Financial & Insurance (Bahamas) Limited.

“This event presents a unique blend of history, sports and tourism,” said the Hon. I Chester Cooper, President of BAF and MP for Exuma & Ragged Island. “It’s also great for the economy of Exuma. I commend the organizers and sponsors for creating this exciting event for Exuma’s calendar. Hopefully the participants and their guests will return again and again to enjoy all that Exuma and its Cays has to offer.“

Run for Pompey is also thrilled to announce a new sponsor of the event. Aliv, the emerging telecommunications company, will become a valued supporter of the weekend.

 

MRI Nassau, GIV Bahamas Inc., The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Grand Isle Resort, Sands Beer, Caribbean and Bottling Company, Ty’s Sunset Bar & Grill, Catch a Fire, Chat N Chill, BahamasLocal.com, SuerClubs Breezes, The Swimming Pig Store and Diane Phillips & Associates will all return as key sponsors of Run for Pompey.

“From the very beginning BAF, MRI Nassau, GIV Bahamas and all of our sponsors have been incredible in bringing this event to fruition,” said Kevin Taylor, co-founder and Race Director.

“We also want to thank our volunteers and Pauline Davis Thompson for her continued support. Run for Pompey is deeply rooted in both the community and the country’s youth. We couldn’t pull it off each year without everyone’s generous support.”

In keeping with the event’s strong sense of community, Run for Pompey recently awarded its second Pompey Scholarship to Demi Rolle of L. N. Coakley High School in Exuma. The annual scholarship, paid for through proceeds from the race, supports a local student each year in his or her ambition to attend college or university.

Jeff Todd, co-founder of the race and Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., believes it is the event’s authenticity that has led to its success.

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Jeff Todd, co-founder of the race and Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc.

“What I really love about this event is not only does it draw tourists to the Bahamas and to Exuma, but it really celebrates something that’s real,” Mr Todd said. “And I think people travel for the things that are culturally relevant, things that are historically relevant and things that are real.”

 

To learn more about the Run for Pompey and register for the race, visit www.runforpompey.com

GIV Bahamas presents Tourism with ‘When Pigs Swim™’

Ministry of Tourism and GIV Bahamas celebrate partnership in global success of swimming pigs

In a powerful display of public and private partnership, GIV Bahamas Inc. presented the Minister of Tourism with an official copy of ‘When Pigs Swim™’, the film that helped ignite a transformational marketing campaign for the Exumas.

“Since the film’s release in September 2014, it has been incredible to see the swimming pigs grow from a niche attraction to such a global phenomenon,” said Jeff Todd, Director of Communications for GIV Bahamas Inc., who met Dionisio D’Aguilar, the Minister of Tourism and Aviation, following a press conference in Nassau.  “We believed the pigs were a sleeping giant in terms of their ability to market the destination. But without the support of the Ministry of Tourism, none of this would have been possible.”
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D’Aguilar received the full 15-minute version of the film, which has been re-produced for the first time since it screened at film festivals in The Bahamas and various cities in the United States.

The film was financed by Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc., and the largest owner at Grand Isle Resort & Spa.

Charlie Smith, the noted Bahamian director and former host of the popular show Electric Air, was hired by GIV Bahamas Inc. to bring the swimming pigs to life, with Todd serving as the screenwriter.

Beginning in December 2014, ‘When Pigs Swim™’ hit the film festival circuit in collaboration with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, with some screenings featuring Junkanoo dance groups and even a piglet walking the red carpet. While the movie has been viewed millions of times in various forms online, the tipping point came when the Ministry of Tourism aggressively incorporated the pigs into their global marketing campaign.
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Swimming pigs can now be found in commercials, on billboards, websites, pamphlets and countless social media posts. Hotels and resorts quickly followed suit, as tourists flocked to the island to catch a glimpse of the unusual spectacle.

The swimming pigs also appeared on various news programs and reality shows, both in North America and in Europe, most notably The Bachelor and the Today Show.

“Exuma is the most beautiful place in the world. That is why I started investing there more than 12 years ago,” said Nicholson.

“While the swimming pigs help get people’s attention, people will stay for the beauty. I thank the Ministry of Tourism for lending their expertise and powerful marketing machine to Exuma and the swimming pigs. It has been a truly dynamic partnership.”

Meanwhile, there are signs the swimming pigs have grown even bigger than Exuma.

Swimming Pig Pub

Baha Mar, the new mega resort in Nassau, now features a high-end pub offering known as The Swimming Pig. Open 24 hours a day, and located right off the casino floor (the largest in the Caribbean), this venue has proven to be a hot-spot for the new development, featuring mounted photos of the pigs and Exuma’s famously blue water.

 
New pig colonies have also sprung on the Bahamian islands of Abaco and Eleuthera/Spanish Wells to meet the high demand among all tourists headed to The Bahamas.

What’s next for the swimming pigs? Their marketing potential seems to be limitless.

To learn more about the history of the swimming pigs and their rise to fame, you can pick up a copy of Todd’s new book – Pigs of Paradise: The story of Exuma’s swimming pigs – here.

Exuma voted top island by Travel + Leisure

Editor of top publication says tourists increasingly drawn by unique experiences

Exuma has been voted among the top islands in the world, according to Travel + Leisure, with a trend towards visitors seeking unique experiences rather than the conventional sun, sand and sea.

Unveiled as part of the publication’s ‘2017 World’s Best Awards’, Exuma came in eighth place, with readers raving about “pigs who act like porpoises”. The Bahamian Family Islands cashed in across the board, with Abaco and Eleuthera also meriting spots in the coveted ‘Top 15’.

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Exuma placed ahead of well-known destinations such as Turks and Caicos, St. Bart’s and St Lucia, but behind other places like St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Virgin Gorda (British Virgin Islands).

Anguilla top home the top spot this year.

“Travel + Leisure’s annual World’s Best Awards provide a picture of what the world’s most discerning travelers find most satisfying in travel right now,” said Nathan Lump, the editor in chief. “What’s clear to me this year is how much they are drawn to experiences that aren’t just enjoyable but provide something richer – cultural immersion, mental and physical well-being, a true sense of adventure.”

Certainly, Exuma has adventure in spades.

These days, essentially everyone who comes to the island and stays in its many amazing resorts, such as Grand Isle Resort & Spa, will end up on the water for a trip of a lifetime. Tourists are treated to a “Bahamian Safari” of sorts, featuring giant iguanas, grottos, sandbars, celebrity islands, encounters with sharks and sea turtles, and of course, the world famous swimming pigs.
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The area also boasts world-class fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving and yachting. Golfing is also available at the Emerald Bay golf course.

The Exuma Cays include 365 islands and span an incredible 210km (130 miles), making it an true, unspoiled wilderness just 482km (300 miles) from Florida.

On land, Exuma possesses many modern conveniences, but also an authentic island feel. Tourists are encouraged to hire a driver or rent a car to discover all of the nooks and crannies of the island. Exumians are known as warm and friendly, with the crime rate at essentially zero.

What it adds up to is exactly the kind of experience described by Lump, where discerning tourists are transported to a place that is far from the ordinary.

“In my mind, Exuma is number one on this list, but I’m happy to see us consistently recognized among the world’s best,” said Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc. “The sky is the limit as we look to continuously improve our food, entertainment and hospitality options.”

You can view Travel + Leisure’s full list of islands and other winners here.

Michelin star chef returns to Grand Isle

From August 14 to August 18, Chef Alyn Williams to offer daily specials, live cooking demonstrations and a special four-course tasting menu

Grand Isle Resort and the renowned Chef Alyn Williams will once again join forces this summer for a limited engagement filled with gourmet food and interactive cooking demonstrations.

The former National Chef of the Year in the UK, who holds a Michelin star at his London establishment, The Westbury, plans to offer guests of Grand Isle a delectable menu of culinary treats for five straight days.

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Chef Alyn Williams preparing starters during last year’s ‘Foodies of Exuma’ event at Catch A Fire restaurant – RENO CURLING

From August 14th  to August 16th, Chef Alyn will prepare a special dish for guests, which can be ordered a la carte at the amazing Palapa Grill. And in a first for the resort, on August 17th, these dishes will then be prepared during live cooking demonstrations by the infinity pool, allowing guests to observe and ask questions as the chef brings them to life. While the elements are still being conceived, rumor has it that risotto, capellini, salmon ceviche and a meat dish harkening back to his English roots could be in the works.

In his highly decorated career, Chef Alyn has worked in some of the UK’s finest restaurants and served under several culinary giants, including Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsey. Many restaurants won a coveted Michelin star while he was in their kitchens, until finally, in 2011, he opened his own place and received the accolade just one year later.

But despite his refined palate and culinary pedigree, this chef has always been drawn to the simplicity and raw beauty of the Exumas.

“I have been coming to Exuma and Grand Isle for over a decade,” said Chef Alyn, who also plans to build in some much needed relaxation with his family. “It has always been a special place for us, so I really enjoy sharing my craft while also soaking in the area’s gorgeous water and beaches. I think the cooking demos will really give guests an added culinary experience that hopefully will form some really great holiday memories.”

The daily specials and cooking demonstrations all lead up to the finale, on August 18th, when Chef Alyn will unveil his final tasting menu.

Grand Isle will also offer its usual menu alongside Chef Alyn for the convenience of all guests. Room service is also available. Residents and tourists staying elsewhere on Exuma are also welcome to make reservations at Palapa Grill from August 14th to August 18th.

Peter Nicholson, President of GIV Bahamas Inc. and the largest owner at Grand Isle, befriended the English chef years ago during one of his many trips to the island.

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Peter Nicholson, left, President of GIV Bahamas Inc pictured here during Chef Alyn’s visit to Exuma in 2016 – RENO CURLING

For Nicholson, a varied and world-class culinary experience is absolutely essential to the tourism product.

“Grand Isle has always had some of the best food in Exuma,” he said. “So it is appropriate that Chef Alyn will put on this amazing week of festivities. Our company is focused on bringing an exciting culinary scene to Exuma and certainly this experience is an important step. These days, when people travel, food is an essential amenity. I want to thank Grand Isle and Chef Alyn for all their hard work in making this event a reality.”

 

Exuma Foundation of Canada celebrates second AGM

EFC releases first pamphlet on philanthropic activities, with focus on community outreach, education and health

While some foundations only offer money to worthy causes, the Exuma Foundation of Canada (EFC) is different.

Since it was founded by GIV Bahamas Inc more than two years ago, EFC has sought to create community events and grass root initiative to not only provide financial assistance where it’s needed, but also inspire unity and positive change on the island itself.

This goal was a central theme during EFC’s recent Annual General Meeting (AGM), when board members invited the public and offered a report on its ongoing projects. The board also unveiled its first pamphlet, which reviews of all of philanthropic activities and goals to date (click the link on the newsletter home page to view).

Run for Pompey, now entering its third year, commemorates the life of a slave who led a rebellion on the island of Exuma back in 1830. The run – offering professionally timed races for all skill levels – brings together youth on the island and delivers the annual Pompey Scholarship to one student each year so him or her can attend college or university. Run for Pompey, running from October 6 to October 8, is fortunate to be supported by many wonderful sponsors.

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Ride for Exuma, also going into its third year on February 10, invites philanthropists with a keen interest in cycling to Exuma’s world famous waters and beaches. Raising significant funds for the community each year, the event also brings the island’s youth together with the philanthropists from abroad. In fact, in addition to many other charitable gifts, Ride for Exuma is embarking on a cycling club in collaboration with L N Coakley High School.

Organizers of the event plan will add to the club’s stockpile of bikes, as EFC seeks to engage youth, promote education and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Following along these themes, EFC is engaged in a few other medium-to-long-term projects for the community.

Earlier this year, the foundation made a donation to the main Exuma Foundation as part of a basketball court and park restoration in downtown George Town (the main settlement of Exuma). While more funds will be needed for this project, the vision is to make this public meeting area a jewel once again of this community and revitalize a once flourishing basketball league for the island’s youth.

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A second major project for the long term is the construction of the Marge Carlson Children Shelter. This initiative, undertaken primarily by the main Exuma Foundation, is being supported wholeheartedly by EFC. The foundation has already a made sizeable donation to the project and will continue to help finance it as the building begins to rise from the ground.

The Marge Carlson Children’s Shelter recently hosted a groundbreaking on the Exuma Foundation’s 10-acre campus. The new building will be owned by the foundation and administered by the Department of Social Services.

The Exuma Foundation, which has operated a school for the mentally challenged for years, will provide the first centre for at-risk youth on the island, with enough space for four boys, four girls, a common living space, an apartment for a qualified “house parent” and a permaculture garden.

EFC is always seeking volunteers, donations, ideas and enthusiasm from like-minded Canadians. For more information on these programs, or to get involved, you can email Jeff Todd at Jeffrey.todd@givexuma.com