Remembering The Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe (1958 – 2023)
In a tribute to the Honourable Obie Wilchcombe, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation for The Bahamas, Hon. I. Chester Cooper writes:
“It is with deep sadness that we, at the Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation, received the news of the passing of the Honourable Obie Wilchcombe … Minister Wilchcombe’s distinguished political career spanned close to thirty years, dedicating more than a third of those years to the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism during his two tenures as Minister of Tourism, from 2002 – 2007 and 2012 – 2017. His two stints at the helm of leadership left an indelible mark on our organization. Moreover, Minister Wilchcombe’s warm, affable personality endeared him to the staff at every level across the Ministry.”
The Deputy Prime Minister continues: “Minister Wilchcombe’s decisive leadership drove continued growth and expansion of our destination’s tourism business, significantly elevating the global footprint of The Bahamas and showcasing our vibrant culture to the world. Under his leadership the Ministry of Tourism deepened its niche markets, reinforcing sports tourism, religious tourism, and increasing travel engagement from the African-American market.”
He noted that: “Minister Wilchcombe’s style of leadership was exemplary, always placing the needs of The Bahamas and its people at the forefront. He believed in consultative participation. He mentored Senior executives and countless other members of staff demonstrating his unwavering belief in empowering Bahamians.”
And he concludes: “The Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe joins the ranks of Great Bahamians who made our beloved Bahamas a better place. His contributions are immeasurable, and he consistently embodied character, discipline, and distinction wherever and whenever he was called upon. We convey our deepest condolences to the family of the late Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
There were also tributes to Wilchcombe from the industry, including the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) which said that it “deeply mourns the loss of distinguished Bahamian leader and former chairman of the inter-regional body, Obediah Wilchcombe.”
At the time of his passing, Mr. Wilchcombe was serving as Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, and Leader of Government Business in the House of Assembly of the Bahamas.
Kenneth Bryan, CTO Chairman and Minister of Tourism and Ports of the Cayman Islands, said: “We extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to Minister Wilchcombe’s family, as well as the government and people of the Bahamas. He was a true champion for the people of the Bahamas and the wider Caribbean region.”
Minister Wilchcombe held the position of CTO Chairman twice (2002-2004 and 2016-2017) while serving as Minister of Tourism for the Bahamas, and contributed significantly to the advancement of sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean.
Chairman Bryan noted that the CTO plans to honor the life and legacy of “this eminent Bahamian leader” at the organization’s upcoming business meetings and the State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Turks and Caicos next month.
The president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig also paid tribute, noting that the passing of Hon. Obediah Hercules Wilchcombe was a great loss for the entire Caribbean tourism sector.
Said Madden-Greig: “In addition to his distinguished service to the government and people of his beloved Bahamas, Minister Wilchcombe also worked tirelessly to create enabling environments for private sector participation in the region’s most important economic sector, tourism.”
And she concluded: “It is with profound sorrow that we say farewell to this great son of the Caribbean, whose legacy will long be remembered.”