NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar yesterday said his ministry was working hard alongside the Ministry of Health to reach a compromise over the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors.
D’Aguilar told Eyewitness News his ministry was tasked with creating a more attractive environment for hotels to reopen, noting the current requirement presented a major challenge.
He said: “The Ministry of Tourism is working very hard with the Ministry of Health to come up with a compromise that will make it more attractive for persons to visit The Bahamas and not have to be constrained by a 14-day quarantine and thereby make the destination more attractive.
“When that is the case, I’m sure more hotels will find it more accommodating or more economically feasible to restart. We are working very hard to try and address that issue.”
Yesterday, the Tourism minister said the country could see the return of some cruise lines in November as the industry continues to negotiate with the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) on health and safety protocols.
His comments come as major cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Lines just last week announced the sale of several vessels and cancellation of sailings into 2021. The major cruise line has also cut hundreds of jobs amid the pandemic’s fall-out.
“They (Carnival) have substantially scaled back on their workforce,” D’Aguilar said yesterday.
“Seventy-five percent of foreign visitors come by cruise and 25 percent by pleasure craft. That 75 percent only represents 11 percent of the spend. It’s still very much up in the air when the cruise company’s will resume. They are making headway with the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).”
D’Aguilar said: “The Bahamas will probably be the first place or country to which sailing resumes. The Bahamas has two products, the private islands and the population centres Nassau and Grand Bahama.
“The cruise companies are not going to want to run into any problems so they are probably going to start off with cruises to a private island. One or two months later they will come to our population centers with pre-arranged tours and then finally passengers can come off the ship and walk about.
He added: ”This is going to be probably over a number of months to get back to what we were used to.”