The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is an archipelago of 700 islands located in the Atlantic Ocean extending for over 500 miles from the southeast coast of Florida, USA, and just north of Hispaniola. Of the 700 islands, roughly 32 are inhabited and the capital is Nassau, which is situated on the island of New Providence. Nassau is the centre of government, industry, commerce and communications. There are approximately 400,000 people in The Bahamas. There are multiple connections from the islands of The Bahamas to numerous U.S. cities and Miami is only 35 minutes away by air. There are also regular direct flights to the major cities of North America and Europe.
ECONOMY & STRUCTURE
The Bahamas has a flourishing tourism industry attracted by the miles of white, sandy beaches, glass-like seas and constant rays of sunlight surrounding each island. The tourism industry that currently thrives was formally organized in the mid-1800s when the Tourism Encouragement Act was passed in 1851. Nowadays roughly 6 million tourists travel to The Bahamas annually to seek relaxation on its tranquil beaches. Tourism generates roughly 50% and Banking 15% of the Gross Domestic Product of $12.4 billion (according to a Central Bank of The Bahamas 2018 report). There are over 230 banks and trust companies in The Bahamas (Source: Central Bank of The Bahamas, 2018), and this industry is recognised for its advanced international banking services.
The Bahamas became an independently governed nation on 10th July 1973 and at the same time maintained its position as a member in the Commonwealth of Nations as well as keeping Queen Elizabeth II as its official Head of State. The House of Assembly, which was formed in 1792, holds power over every law passed in The Bahamas. It corresponds to Britain’s House of Commons and each law passed in The Bahamas observes the English Common Law tradition. The Judiciary departments in The Bahamas include the Magistrates Court, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and The Privy Council in England.
The Bahamas has no tax on personal income, dividends or profits. There is also no capital gains tax, inheritance tax, or withholding tax. However, The Bahamas does impose taxes on some items due to the lack of tax derived from income. Primarily the taxes include import duty (which is born by retail merchants in The Bahamas); real property tax; Value Added Tax (on a range of goods and services), National Insurance on salaries, business license fees and other fees and stamp duties.
The Bahamas has become a magnet for various business endeavours where many major businesses have grown in strength and size over the past decade due to the thriving tourism industry. Between 1994 and 2007, Kerzner International invested over $1.7 billion in Atlantis, Paradise Island which embraced the meticulous and purely imaginative vision that Sir Sol Kerzner had of The Lost City.
Another record breaking investment in hotel development and restoration to the tourism infrastructure is Baha Mar. Baha Mar is a mega-resort located on Cable Beach which includes an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and the region’s largest casino. The Export-Import Bank of China financed this $3.5 billion project.
These multibillion-dollar companies are attracted to The Bahamas for its excellent location and booming tourism. The Bahamas is also becoming a second home for life style choice with a view to permanent residence for numerous nationalities including Americans, Asians and Europeans resulting in a dramatic increase in real estate sales.
As well as tourism and banking and financial services, The Bahamas has made its mark in art and entertainment. With an eye on international appreciation, the platform of Bahamian art has expanded from galleries, such as the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, to showcasing Bahamian art throughout the three million square foot Baha Mar resort as well as in the Atlantis facility. As for international entertainment, the Bahamian sun, sand and sea has acted as the scenic backdrop to blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean and five of the James Bond films.
Such capital inflows and increased tourism serve to boost the importation of an expanded variety of goods and services, the owners of which would be well advised to protect their IP rights.