Out Island resorts report uptick in domestic tourism

Out Island resorts report uptick in domestic tourism
Exuma Chamber of Commerce President Pedro Rolle.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Out Island resort properties are reporting a significant uptick in business particularly on the domestic tourism front, with some islands reportedly being ‘full to capacity’ during the Bahamian Independence holiday weekend.

“Over the course of the last week and particularly the holiday weekend,” said Pedro Rolle, the Exuma Chamber of Commerce president.

“We were operating at pretty much full capacity based on reports from the tourism sector. The was an unusually high amount was domestic travelers.

“A tremendous number of people came Exuma and it was a busy week.”

Rolle said that the uptick in activity was welcomed news to ailing out island economies, heavily dependent on tourism and particularly vulnerable amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The truth is it needs to happen. This pandemic has forced migration to the islands. For instance there were two couples I know of who were raving about the great time they had here. For Bahamians we sometimes forget or fail to appreciate the fact that we don’t have to leave this country for a wonderful and unique experience,” said Rolle.

With Florida, a popular vacation and shopping destination for Bahamians during the summer months being views as a ‘hotspot’ for COVID-19 cases, combined with joblessness and economic uncertainty, many Bahamians have either opted or been forced to stay in the country and look to the family islands.

Rolle continued: “Sandals has opened and we do have a number of foreign visitors here. Our concern is though, their adherence to the restrictions. They obviously feel free and uninhibited but we need to be vigilant and ensure when they get off the plane that they are aware that mask and what not are not optional, they are mandatory.

“We are such a small community and if one person gets it the reach they could have a small community is scary.”

Cheryl de Goicoechea, the Long Island Chamber of Commerce president told Eyewitness News the island has seen a lot of visitors recently.

Over the holiday weekend we saw a lot of visitors here from Nassau and perhaps some other islands as well,” he said.

“That certainly was a good sign. A lot of people came and stayed with family.”

Keisha Roberts, general manager at Harbour Breeze Villas in Clarence Town said the occupancy levels were in the 80-90 percent range.

“We had a lot of people come to the island,” she said.

“It was really busy over the holiday weekend. We had about 80 percent occupancy and  now we are looking at about 90 percent occupancy. It’s been really busy. July to September are usually the slower months.”

Over on Cat Island, Yvonne Rolle, co-owner of Rollezz Villas Beach Resort said: “We were tremendously blessed to have domestic tourists. We had a great group of young people patronizing us for the holiday. We truly appreciate Bahamian visitors.

“We were full during the holiday weekend. After so many months off, we were happy to be back in the swing of things. A lot of Cat Islands businesses also benefited from the group that we had.”