NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said today his ministry has recommended that hotels across the country resume full operations, including use of beaches, on October 15.
During a press conference, D’Aguilar unveiled the ministry’s ‘vacation in place’ (VIP) tourism initiative which seeks to flip the mandatory quarantine period into a luxury experience.
However, the minister warned Bahamians should ‘temper’ their expectations over the country’s tourism product in the short to medium term.
“It is important that Bahamians temper their expectations of what they expect the tourism product to look like in the short to medium term,” he said.
“Our recommendation to the government will be a October 15 2020 reopening of for hotels on all islands to resume full operations and the full use of beaches, a critical component of our tourism product and the number one reason why persons come on vacation come to The Bahamas. This will allow our land based tourism to ramp up and benefit from the traditional Thanksgiving travel period leading into the Christmas and New Year’s period.”
D’Aguilar continued: “What we envision is that when a person goes on to a hotel property they will be allowed to use all the facilities in that hotel and be allowed to move freely within that property Everyone coming onto that property would have received a COVID test prior to arrival. We are encouraging the staff to be tested as well. It ill be a safe bubble where guests would be allowed to move around the property.”
D’Aguilar noted international airlines are beginning to resume services to The Bahamas, albeit with much lower passenger volumes.
Local carriers will be allowed to resume domestic flights later this week and international flights in tandem with the reopening of hotels, he said.
As for the cruise industry, D’Aguilar said the outlook was far more grim.
“Unfortunately there is no good news to report,” he said.
“I have been in discussions with the major cruise lines and none of them have received an indication from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) on when the no sale order will be lifted.
The minister added that cruises originating out of the United States my not resume until late October or November.
Still, D’Aguilar said there are some positive signs in the industry with cruises to Europe resuming.
He added the industry has indicated that there is still strong demand, which the country is well positioned to take advantage of.