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Snowstorms, Marriage and China: It’s Busy in the Bahamas

weddingsTaking advantage of a break in snowstorms ravaging the Northeast, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism hosted a Valentine’s Day lunch at the romantic Per Se restaurant overlooking Central Park to promote getting married in The Bahamas (bahamas16islandsweddings.com).

While the idea trekking through lakes of slush to see pictures of pristine beaches and clear blue water might not have been appealing, having a private jet ready to get to The Bahamas before the weekend’s snow would have been even better.

That said, destination weddings are a hot trend, and The Bahamas has created an official position, Director of Romance (Freda Malcolm), who has a team dedicated to helping elite travelers figure the options.  The goal is to host 5,000 nuptials per year.

Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Obediah H. Wilchombe, who braved the wintry weather, stressed the wide variety of options for weddings.  Sixteen of The Bahamas islands provide full facilities to obtain a marriage license meaning negating the need to stop in the capital.

There is a 30-page brochure outlining venues for stunning island-by-island, including stone lighthouses and ideas such as having the wedding party arrive by boat.  One couple departed their wedding on jet skis to a waiting yacht where they hosted the celebratory party while another couple wed underwater with several dolphins showing up.

Other significant news is the just approved Visa waiver program between The Bahamas and China.  Whilchombe believes Baha Mar, the new $3.5 billion integrated resort opening later this year while have an appeal the Chinese market that has powered gaming in Macau. He is opening a tourism office in Beijing later this year. He said the country has become popular for second residences as well via its program that enables those who buy homes at $500,000 or more to attain permanent residency.