Travel increases in Nov/Dec reflect “slow recovery”

Travel increases in Nov/Dec reflect “slow recovery”
(FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An increase in travel this month and last month compared to August and September could represent some modest recovery in tourism as major hotels on New Providence reopen their doors this month, according to Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jan Knowles.

While Knowles was unable to provide data on the month-to-month increase, she told Eyewitness News the improvement reflects a “slow recovery basically, but recovery it is”.

“The airport has seen an increase in scheduled flights for the month of December 2020 over prior months, October and November 2020,” Knowles said.

“As the major hotels reopen, we are hopeful that the slight recovery in passenger numbers and flights we are seeing from month to month will steadily continue.”

According to Knowles, the airport has undertaken considerable work in the last nine months to shore up travel safety for passengers at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA).

LPIA plans to roll out a new contactless food and beverage ordering platform called the “LPIA Market Place powered by Grab” sometime this month.

“The contactless platform will give travelers the ability to order and pay for food and beverage from participating airport concessionaires using their smartphones,” Knowles said.

“Once the order is placed, the traveler would only have to collect their menu items to either eat at the food court or take on board their flight, thus reducing the amount of contact they make while traveling.

“The system, which is in final testing now, will go live over the holidays.”

Other upgrades and improvements for travel amid the pandemic include ‘simplified arrival’, with United States Customs and Border Protection using facial comparison technology to make the US pre-clearance process more efficient.

According to Knowles, in addition to efficiency, the new system has public health benefits, namely reducing the need to capture fingerprints or handle documents.

“The foregoing recent measures along with significant other measures to address travel in the current COVID-19 environment has resulted in LPIA being the first airport in the Caribbean region to receive a COVID-19 Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) from the Airports Council International (ACI),” the vice president said.

ACH was achieved by LPIA in September.

In June, economists said the tourism industry is expected to be one of the most severely impacted sectors globally as a result of the pandemic with only gradual recovery in 2021.

Last month, Central Bank Governor John Rolle projected the full recovery of the country’s tourism sector was not expected until 2023.

He noted that the pace and timing of the recovery will largely depend on how effectively domestic interventions manage the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, and the speed of global efforts to contain infections and make a vaccine widely available.