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A change of course on Nassau Paradise Island

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In a year of significant change in Caribbean tourism, the appointment of Joy Jibrilu as CEO of the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board (NPIPB) is among the most notable developments.

Assuming the position following the retirement of Fred Lounsberry, who had served as CEO of NIPIPB since 2005, Jibrilu is the first woman and the first Bahamian native to hold the position.

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A consortium of 18 hotels in Nassau’s Cable Beach and Paradise Island neighborhoods, the group’s members range from family-run eight-room guesthouses to mega-resorts hosting thousands of guests.

NPIPB works closely with tour operators, strategic partners and travel marketing organizations to promote travel to the Bahamas. The NPIPB also coordinates travel agent training, tactical advertising and public relations activities.

Jibrilu has served as Chief Executive Officer of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism since May 2014 after serving as Director of Investments in the Office of the Prime Minister of The Bahamas Investment Authority since July 2008.


“I see a greater level of partnership with the destination for the promotion of the destination.” – Joy Jibrilu, NPIPB. (Photo by Jim Beyers)

Jibrilu brings to his new role significant experience in tourism and the public sector in the Bahamas. She previously worked at the Bahamas Ministry of Finance as a legal advisor with primary responsibility for international agreements after starting with the agency as an independent consultant.

A lawyer by profession, Jibrilu is certified by the English and Bahamian bars. She discussed her plans with TravelPulse at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference in Puerto Rico last week.

TP: How do you feel about taking on this very different role compared to your previous position?

JJ: I think it’s just a really exciting opportunity that comes from the public sector. I have been exposed to the public sector in tourism and in the investment space. It has nothing to do with me, it’s just the privileged opportunity I had. But [the exposure] will be an asset, as I bring all this experience and knowledge with me.

TP: Will your plans take the NPIPB in a new direction from the recent past?

JJ: Well, Fred did a great job. For 17 years we worked closely together, so a lot of the work that he was doing we would have shared – the marketing plans, the politics, all the policy issues – we would have discussed it. [NPIPB] would have come through me to help navigate the space from a government perspective. So I am once again privileged to have this knowledge.

TP: What sets you apart from former NPIPB leaders?

JJ: Automatically, I am the first woman in this office and the first Bahamian. So my look is a little different. I was approached with this opportunity so I could just [say] ‘Look, that would be my vision.’ There was immediate buy-in and acceptance, and it came to the point that Oh my God, why didn’t we think to try this?

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TP: What changes do you plan to make first?

JJ: So right now, the head office is located in Fort Lauderdale, yet [the organization] is the promotion board for Nassau Paradise Island. We will still have a presence in the United States and in Fort Lauderdale, but we are moving the headquarters to Nassau. It’s logic. Also buys from the Bahamas. For example, the head office previously used a company in Portland, Oregon for printing. So buying local is the next step [change].

TP: What else are you planning?

JJ: The second is to educate the Bahamian public about what the Nassau Paradise Promotion Bureau is and does, as it has always operated out of Fort Lauderdale and is an outward looking organization.

TP: How will your organization solve this problem?

NOT A WORD : [Via] a public education and awareness campaign [and] bring headquarters home. There is a sense of pride attached to this which has broadened our support within the community.

TP: Are you considering any other new NIPB initiatives?

JJ: There are a lot of things that I have in my six month plan and in my 12 month plan. I don’t want to reveal too much and be premature, but I think we can do a lot more. A great responsibility has been placed on the NPIPB and I want to make sure that we give back to this industry which has supported us all.

TP: Can you share information on the programs you are considering?

JJ: I’m talking straight away about mentoring, talking about the future [leaders] in the industry so they can say, “I could do that one day.

TP: Do you see the NIPB taking a broader approach?

JJ: It’s about the destination. NIPB stands for hotels, but for most people who visit, they have to go to Paradise Island when they leave the airport, and they have to go through downtown Bay Street. So I tease some of the things I have in mind.

TP: Are you encouraged by the response to your appointment?

JJ: I’m so glad everyone can get on board and with that I see a greater level of partnership with the destination for the betterment of the destination. This not only benefits the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Council, but all of Nassau and the Bahamas.

TP: How are hotels and resorts in the Bahamas currently doing?

JJ: Tourism is the most resilient industry, we’ve heard that message time and time again. And look how he recovered and bounced back! It doesn’t matter if it’s an Atlantis or a Baha Mar, all of our properties have recovered. All [the properties] come out of this strong. And 2023 should be even stronger.

TP: How has the Bahamas, which depends on tourism, been able to survive the pandemic closures?

JJ: What was great was that the public and private sectors came together and understood the importance of tourism. They recognized that we have to be ready for recovery. I talked about it [The Bahamas’] recovery plan for the preparation of tourism in which I was heavily involved. We had 100 partners contributing to the plan and my proudest moment was when the opposition held it up and said, ‘It’s a stimulus package that looks like.’