D’Aguilar: “Watershed moment” as major properties to come on stream within days

D’Aguilar: “Watershed moment” as major properties to come on stream within days
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar yesterday described the reopening of the country’s two major resorts and other properties as a “watershed moment” for the country’s tourism industry, noting, “We really have to make it work.”

Speaking with reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday, D’Aguilar said, “The tourism industry is beginning to reopen. We start with Atlantis on December 10, Baha Mar on December 17 and the Hilton on December 15, notwithstanding that there have been some hotels open during this time such as Ocean Club and the Marriott. It is indeed delightful that these major properties are reopening and thousands upon thousands of Bahamians are being called back to work. This is really a watershed moment.

“We have to really make it work and ensure that the foreign visitors get a really exceptional experience and we really get engines and the cog of our industry back to work. After all, it represents two-thirds of our economy and 50 percent of our total economic output.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendously adverse effect on global tourism and travel. Locally, visitor arrivals have seen a dramatic decrease. The Central Bank’s monthly economic developments report for October noted that the most recent data provided by the Ministry of Tourism revealed that total foreign arrivals by first port of entry were 98.6 percent less than in September 2019 — with September being a traditionally slow month — extending the 12.2 percent decrease in the same period last year when Hurricane Dorian impacted the country.

The tourism minister noted that rising COVID-19 cases in the United States is “very concerning”, however, expressed hope that the country’s COVID-19 protocols would help to keep infections in the country down.