NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Sandals Resorts International’s deputy chairman Adam Stewart yesterday acknowledged that the lack of a clear path to reopening this nation’s tourism sector led to the company’s decision to open its other resorts across the Caribbean first.
Stewart told the Exuma Business Outlook yesterday that the confusion created in the marketplace over this nation’s repeated lockdowns and travel restrictions had given other destinations, such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic, a head start.
He said while its Emerald Bay Exuma property is set to reopen on February 1, that could change as the company has seen increased demand in recent weeks.
“The date we have now is February 1,” Stewart said.
“I wouldn’t hold on to it because it moves week to week as demand builds. We are seeing increased demand in the last couple of weeks. The US elections are hindering and getting in the way of tourism at large. It is a very normal thing but this year it’s a bit more chaotic than it traditionally is.
“I am very hopeful that we will see accelerated demand after the elections. The Bahamas is the shortest distance of any Caribbean destination from the US and I think that will bode well for us,” said Stewart.
Sandals had also indicated plans to reopen its Royal Bahamian property on January 28, 2021.
Still, Stewart stressed that the government and private sector must work together to develop a pathway to recovery.
“We as the private sector have to hold hands with the government and find a pathway. No one has all the answers. It is not the government’s job alone. We have to stop casting blame,” said Stewart.
“There have been a couple of lockdowns due to spikes and decisions needed to be made. Every action has a reaction. It created confusion in the marketplace and other country’s like the Dominican Republic and Mexico have decided to just open their borders and they have gotten ahead.
“There are people fearful of traveling and there are others that just want to get going. The reason we have been able to open other hotels first is not for a lack of love of the beautiful relationship with the country, it was just clearer earlier,” said Stewart who praised the island of Exuma for its beauty.
“Exuma is God’s country. I’ve never seen a place more beautiful in my life which is why I personally vacation there when I have time off. There is no water anywhere in the world like it. Every time someone flies over their faces light up,” he added.