NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday the two-year closure of the Meliá Nassau Beach resort amid the global COVID-19 pandemic is a “double whammy” for the country’s tourism sector.
Speaking with Eyewitness News after the resort announced it will close as of March 1 to undertake renovations over the next 24 months, D’Aguilar predicted it would be a “rough ride” for the industry until at least the second half of the year.
“A lot of hotels, during the course of their lifetime, will close for refurbishment. Atlantis has closed 200, 300 and 400 rooms at a time. This is a normal occurrence in the hotel sector,” he said.
“However, with COVID-19 upon us, this is a double whammy. The hotel industry is suffering because of COVID and given that we are so tourism-dependent, we’re probably one of the most impacted countries on the planet because of COVID.”
Still, D’Aguilar suggested there is “light at the end of the tunnel”.
He said: “I can understand the concern, but there are some bright spots. We should focus on the bright spots.
“The vaccine is being rolled out in America right now. That is our core market. We believe there is pent-up demand from persons wanting to get out of their cold, dreary environments and come to a warm, sunny destination like the Caribbean.
“We feel as though once the vaccines start to get traction, in the second half of 2021, we will see things slowly improve.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are just in a dark place right now with our core market being significantly impacted by COVID. We think things will get better in the second half, but it will be a rough ride until then.”