Domestic tourism still a “conundrum”, says minister

Domestic tourism still a “conundrum”, says minister
A plane soars over the Glass Window Bridge on Eleuthera (PHOTO: BAHAMAS.COM)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said the government continues to juggle the “conundrum” of domestic tourism, given the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

In a recent interview with Eyewitness News, D’Aguilar explained that while the government wants to deter people from traveling overseas, it remains mindful about the possibility of the virus spreading from the country’s population centers — New Providence and Grand Bahama — into the Family Islands.

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar. (BIS PHOTO/KEMUEL STUBBS)

“We are trying to straddle a policy of yes you can go there, but as much as possible we would like to discourage that type of travel because [of] what is happening with all of these variant strains…still working its way through the world,” he said.

“…The government is managing this problem as best as it can.

“Tourism always wants to put its foot on the gas to attract as many people into the country to promote our domestic tourism [but] our health professionals have their foot hard on the breaks, saying: ‘Steady on; let’s take it one step at a time. Let’s act responsibly. Let’s make sure we don’t open the floodgates and let people come in willy-nilly internationally or allow people from the population centers into our other islands and create problems, there which is much more difficult to deal with in Family Islands than here in Nassau where health facilities are a little bit more robust.'”

D’Aguilar underscored that health resources and the health facilities on Family Islands are very limited.

As of Sunday, the number of COVID cases in The Bahamas stood at 8,223.

In recent weeks, there has been a slight uptick in cases on several Family Islands, including Andros, Eleuthera, Abaco and Exuma.

In the Ministry of Health’s January 30 COVID-19 Dashboard, released on Sunday, health officials advised that there had been 16 confirmed travel-related COVID cases on New Providence and one on Exuma since the beginning of the month, with five newly confirmed imported cases in the capital on Saturday.

Additionally, one travel-related case was confirmed on New Providence and two others were confirmed on Andros in the January 31 dashboard released yesterday.

About Sloan Smith Sloan has spent the past four years as a lead news writer immersed in the field, covering a range of investigative breaking news developments. She produces daily salient pieces on natural disasters, crime, politics, policy, human-interest, and socioeconomic realities.