NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An Out Island boutique resort operator yesterday reported some $30,000 in lost revenue, telling Eyewitness News the COVID-19 pandemic had hit at “the worst possible time”.
Edwin Mulford, owner of Cat Island’s Pigeon Cay Beach Club said he expects the country to see “some traffic” as the tourism sector pushes toward a full reopen on July 1.
However, he noted private home rentals will likely be the first choice for visitors.
“For the past four years we have seen a gradual decline in new visitors and I honestly believe it’s because of the private home rental sector,” he said.
“I was not going to take any guests from June through Christmas and just take a break and fix the place up. The Coronavirus hit at the worst possible time and we lost around $30,000 in revenue. We have been working hard on our entire property here updating everything, something that was needed anyhow and now here comes re-opening of The Bahamas in July.”
Mulford said: “We will see some traffic, but one has to remember that it’s summer, it’s hurricane season and a lot of people are reluctant to fly.
“The first choice for visitors will be the private homes as the will feel more insulated. I expect nothing here except a few of our repeat customers who know how safe and peaceful it is, and I do not think we will see much numbers until we find a vaccine. Maybe things well get going by February 2021. Following general protocols will be easy for a place like ours as we have all stand alone cottages well spaced out.”
A Phase I reopening of the tourism sector will begin on June 15.
Tourism industry stakeholders plan to ‘test the market’ and effectiveness of new protocols outlined in the country’s tourism readiness and recovery plans at that time, as the country moves towards officially reopening to international commercial travel on July 1.
Yesterday, a Grand Bahama hotelier said any ‘meaningful’ tourism growth on the island is contingent on several factors.
Magnus Alnebeck, Pelican Bay Hotel’s general manager told Eyewitness News the reopening of the country’s borders for international travel on July 1 is ‘great news’.
“I am sure we are going to see some activity, such as boaters, fishermen and some leisure tourists. The reality of GBI is that post Hurricane Matthew when Memories closed down and most airlift disappeared is that we have not really had any meaningful numbers of overnight tourists.”
Alnebeck said: “The exception has been Viva Fortuna, that has benefited from some dedicated airlift programs.
“Hurricane Dorian, and the inability of opening the airport for many months created a further drop. Most tourism in GBI post Hurricane Mathew has been day cruise ship business, and at this point it is hard to estimate when we will see any ships back.
He added: “Any other tourism growth in the near future is dependent on if the airport reopens in a timely fashion with flight returning, Viva Fortuna re-opening and of course if something happens at Grand Lucayan. Just reopening borders which is great news, might not trigger any of those things to happen, but I hope it does.”