Exuma chamber ‘frightened’ over COVID-19 fallout

Exuma chamber ‘frightened’ over COVID-19 fallout
Exuma Chamber of Commerce President Pedro Rolle.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Exuma Chamber of Commerce president Pedro Rolle yesterday said he is ‘frightened’ over the fate of the island’s largely tourism-based economy as the COVID-19 pandemic forces prolonged closures.

Rolle told Eyewitness News, the island was in the midst of a “virtual shutdown”.

“No tourists can come in obviously and the ones that are here are mostly boaters,” he said.

“We have a very large community here. I spoke to a boater on Monday and they were preparing to leave but decided to stay. It was no big deal. The ones who are staying here are enjoying themselves and making the best of it. Most of the tourists have gone.”

Rolle added: “The impact of this is going to be huge. Our economy is a small business based economy. Most of what our small businesses do is dependent on persons coming in. I am frightened as to what the impact will be on our small businesses without any kind of cash flow.

“I don’t know how they will make it or sustain themselves,” he continued.

“I’m just frightened.This thing is going to go into the summer. This is the time now, the high season when people here on the island make the bulk of their income.

“The hotels have shut down, the regatta has been canceled, the tourists have left and we’re not sure when we will see visitors again. The impact of this is going to be like nothing we have ever seen.”