Friday 30 December 2011

Jaws - New Bahamas Definitives - How To Encourage Tourism

The designers of modern stamps and the post offices and advisory committees and philatelic agencies which choose the designs do often give one the impression that they are quite mad. I ask this question - what is the principal source of income to the Bahamas government? My knowledge of international finance and economics is, at best, scanty, but I should think that the answer to that question is a pretty sure bet - tourism. Next question - what do tourists to Bahamas like to do when they are there? Answer - swim and frolic in the turquoise blue, warm Caribbean sea. Next question - what don't tourists like to think is swimming around in that warm, turquiose blue water? Answer - SHARKS! Final question - isn't it a completely daft idea to feature a large, menacing-looking shark on one of the values of your definitive stamps series which tourists, and potential tourists, are likely to see in their thousands? I think so, but then you see so many ridiculous things shown on new stamps nowadays that nothing can truly surprise one. I bet the Bahamas Tourist Board are delighted about the stamp design-clearly The Bahamas Post Office has found a brilliant way to boost tourism - hasn't anyone there seen the movie "Jaws"? Fortunately the remaining values of the set show less menacing marine life of the local waters with a cheerful dolphin featured on the $10 value although I don't like the look of the rather ferocious-appearing moray eel on the 40c value.
Sharks have featured quite regularly on the stamps of various Commonwealth territories, the most notable set of all being the excellently designed definitive set issued by The British Indian Ocean Territory on 1 November 1994. All 12 designs showed a different shark, beautifully painted by Nick Shewring and the £1 value featured Jaws itself, the great white shark. On 18 August 2005 The BIOT revisited the theme of sharks by issuing a set of 8 stamps, again designed by Nick Shewring, each depicting a different species of shark or ray. The good thing about the BIOT is that it is not really a place renowned for its tourism industry, being a large, high-security American base in the middle of the Indian Ocean which is surrounded by a few tiny islands from where all the local inhabitants were expelled in the most disgraceful example of behaviour by the British that has been seen in many a year. So, no worry about sharks on stamps ruining the BIOT's tourism industry then.

On the subject of definitive issues, it would appear that The Maldives will soon release a new set of 13 stamps following the advertising on the Maldives Post website on 20 October 2011 of an invitation for expression of interest to print and provide postage stamps for the Maldives Post Office. The specifications lay down that there will be 13 denominations with a total quantity of 780,000 stamps, there being 3 x 10,000 stamps for the 10L, 15L and 25L values, 9 x5 0,000 stamps for the 1Rf, 2Rf, 3Rf, 5Rf, 6Rf, 8Rf, 16Rf, 18Rf and 20Rf values and 1 x 300,000 stamps for the 12RF value. It is stated that the printing should be full colour and include a security feature embedded in the stamp so that it can not be replicated and the size of the stamps will be 40 x 27.715mms including the perforations. The closing date for quotations was 29 October 2011 and so I suppose that the new stamps should appear in the first part of 2012. Let us hope that The Maldives, whose economy again is based on tourism, has the good sense not to emulate The Bahamas and feature any sharks on this new definitive series.

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