NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar yesterday urged industry stakeholders to be patient with regards to the industry’s revival, noting that the industry would not immediately return to its pre-COVID performance.
While addressing reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday, D’Aguilar said: “This is going to be a crawl before you walk and before you run. It’s not going to be right back to pre-COVID. It’s going to be a staggered approach to getting tourism back and running.
“People are going to become frustrated. The players coming back are doing so very cautiously and want to make sure the T’s are crossed and slowly they will be able to expand.
D’Aguilar noted that with regards to the cruise lines they will return to their private islands first, then pre-arranged tours and then regular calls on the cruise ports.
With tourism employing 50 percent of the country’s workforce, he stressed the country must work towards getting the sector restarted.
“Tourism employs 50 percent of our workforce, it is two-thirds of our economy,” he continued.
“There are people out there that think we should shift to another industry. There is not an industry that they can think of or we can think of that can replace tourism in the short to medium term. We have to get it going. We have to get our economy going and people back to work. We think we are doing it in the safest possible way,” said D’Aguilar.
D’Aguilar stressed that it is “critical for the survival of the tourism sector,” that the country significantly lowers its COVID-19 infection rate.
“It behooves us to get the numbers down. I implore everyone to do what they can to contribute to community spread. It is critical for the survival of the tourism sector for us to get the numbers down,” he said.