COVID-19 deals ‘devastating shock’ to economy

COVID-19 deals ‘devastating shock’ to economy
Jeffrey Beckles, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS —The Bahamian economy will need time to recover from the ‘devastating shock’ of COVID-19, according to a top private sector representative.

Jeffrey Beckles, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) chief executive, told Eyewitness News the country must manage its expectations.

Beckles said: “A lot of people are anxious in the business community and very concerned. This is an evolving environment we are in and it is changing every day. We have to focus on keeping as much life into our local economy while we work on strategies to get some foreign reserves.

“Right now the business community is concerned and many are afraid of going into another lockdown especially after coming off a lockdown for several months.”

He said: “The economy has taken a devastating shock. It will have to go through its therapy. Even if the cruise lines return it’s going to return to an environment where we need to get our legs back underneath us. I think we need to manage our expectations because it’s going to take some time to get our volume built up.

“We can not lose sight of the fact that our source markets are taking a beating. We get the majority of our stop overs from the United States. It’s going to take time to rebuild consumer confidence and everything else. It’s not simply a matter of opening up the borders.”

Still, he noted that in the meantime the country must assess its entire tourism product.

“We must assess our entire tourism product,” Beckles said.

“You can invest in a little Airbnb because that is obviously going to be a huge part of the market for a long time. We also have to look at how we refine what we did as a tourism product. If we could keep our islands COVID free we have an advantage where people can get to us quicker.

“Everyone is going to be looking for somewhere to go, to do nothing and just relax. We have the advantage of location and should be readying ourselves to take advantage of that need,” said Beckles.