Categorized | National News

Difficult Days Ahead for Tourism

Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said the tourism industry faces a tough road ahead as countries around the world shut their borders as COVID-19 continues to spread.

D’Aguilar admitted that his contribution, in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, was the most painful speech that he has had to give and that’s after recently celebrating the rebounds of tourism, since the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian on the Northern Bahamas last September.

D’Aguilar said the economic calamity facing the country exceeds that of Hurricane Dorian.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread uncertainty and stoke fear around the globe, The Bahamas is confronted with extraordinary vulnerability owing to our pronounced reliance both on the United States and cruise lines,” he said.

“Indeed, the prime minister has highlighted that some 82 percent of stopover visitors hail from a country which is slowly closing itself off to the world, while 75 percent of our foreign visitor arrivals depends on a cruise industry which has entirely ceased operations.”

The tourism minister said The Bahamas was once praised as the safest place away from the COVID-19 virus. But that all changed within a week, as the impact of the global outbreak is now threatening to disrupt the country’s strongest industry.

“It was only one week ago The Bahamas was featured in the most recent Travel Market report as the ‘safest’ country to travel to within the Caribbean amidst the spread of the virus. Then, the U.S. rolled out its new travel restrictions and this led to a mass exodus of foreign visitors wishing to return home to avoid being locked out by any sudden change in travel rules to The Bahamas,” D’Aguilar said. 

“In fact, when asked by reporters, yesterday, whether Americans should continue to travel to the Caribbean and Mexico, President Donald Trump strongly advised his citizens to stay at home, in their house, until further notice.  I predict that, on the back of such announcements, hotel occupancies will rapidly trend down to zero as the travel bans, airport closures and border shut downs become the new norm.”

However, D’Aguilar said he remains optimistic. The situation will get worse, over the next two to three months, but he said he believes the tourism product of The Bahamas is resilient, and will bounce back.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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