NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Grand Bahama’s ailing tourism segment took another hit yesterday after the hurricane-ravaged island was included in the US State Department’s updated travel advisory.
Magnus Alnebeck, the Pelican Bay Resort’s general manager told Eyewitness News Online that while the advisory was certainly not good news, it was understandable in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
The Level 2 advisory issued on November 26 warns visitors to exercise increased caution in the Bahamas due to crime, citing increased risk in some areas.
The advisory read: “Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault, occurs even during the day and in tourist areas.
“Although the family islands are not crime-free, the vast majority of crime occurs on New Providence and Grand Bahama islands. US government personnel are not permitted to visit the area known by many visitors as the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime.”
It added: “Activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercrafts are often not maintained, and many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas.
“Jet-ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists. As a result, US government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.”
The advisory also maintained its warning for travellers to exercise caution in the area known as “Over the Hill” (south of Shirley Street) and the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay in Nassau, especially at night.
Alnebeck said: “A travel advisory is never good but under the circumstances it is quite understandable. Of much bigger concern is the fact that we still do not have international flights.”
Yesterday Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said Grand Bahama should be in a ‘far better position’ to receive foreign visitors by Christmas.
“Obviously they are challenged. There was significant negative public relations about what happened on that island.”
D’Aguilar said: “The Ministry has changed its messaging to get the word out that Grand Bahama is coming back on stream and all of that will contribute to probably not a robust Thanksgiving but hopefully a robust Christmas.
“We are aiming at Christmas when Grand Bahama will be in a far better piston than it is now to receive foreign visitors.”
D’Aguilar said the government has not made a decision as yet on whether it will purchase the Grand Bahama airport.
“It is still owned and operated by Hutchison Ports. Obviously they have been impacted many times over a number of years at that airport. They are not as excited to operate it as they once were.
“The government is exploring all options. We’re the government to contemplate its acquisition it would require a lot of work,” said D’Aguilar.