IT’S hard to imagine just now – but picture what life will be like when this current crisis is over.
Suppose all the measures introduced by the government pay off. People follow the rules, stay at home, and the threat of the virus passes. What next?
If we reach a point where The Bahamas is free and clear of the virus – but the rest of the world is still battling with it, how does a country based on tourism begin to function again?
Things are going to have to start moving again. When tourism starts again – and at first it may be a trickle, not a flood – hotels are going to need to step up their operations. Hire staff, get facilities ready. Ferries are going to need to start running again. Restaurants and bars are going to polish the glasses and open the doors. So who are they going to serve?
Well, how about us?
As the country starts to open for business again, why not commit across all those businesses to run at the minimum it takes initially to make these places as cheap as possible for Bahamians to use?
Rather than pushing for profits right away, create an opportunity for a Bahamas-wide staycation market. Let Bahamians rediscover their Bahamas.
Let them get cheap deals on ferries, on accommodation in the Family Islands or resorts on New Providence. Let people who have never seen Grand Bahama get the chance to see it for themselves. The same with Long Island, or Abaco, or Andros, and so on.
Money will be tight for many after the lockdown ends, but for those who do have some money in pocket, the best use of that for the country will be spending it. Money in a pocket will do nothing for the economy once things start moving again, whereas money in a cash register will fund jobs, get businesses going again, and give the country a chance to be ready when the tourists do arrive once more.
It won’t do everything to fix matters – to paraphrase Churchill it’s a little like standing in a bucket and trying to lift ourselves up by the handle – but it can start the process rolling.
Those private schools that were planning trips overseas later in this year? Why not give your students a chance to experience somewhere in their own country this year? See an island they’ve never been to?
People who have been working through all this will have vacation time to use – and less of the year to use it up in, so it may as well get used up seeing the beauty of Exuma, the charm of Harbour Island or any one of the 700 islands and cays.
In doing so, we’ll be paying for the salaries of bartenders and maids, gardeners and butlers, ferry captains and pilots, scuba tutors and dolphin experts, cooks and chefs, serving staff and more – directly helping our Bahamian brothers and sisters by getting them back to work.
So what do you say, Ministry of Tourism? Let’s have a push to make it Bahamas for Bahamians. Let’s encourage everyone when this is done to celebrate our nation – and to tell the world all about it.
Get some of the big movers in tourism onside, the major resorts, to open up at reduced rates. Get the inter-island transport network to do the same. Keep the margins tight so that more can make the most of it, then make your profits when the tourists of the world return.
Let’s stay in our Bahamas – and show the world that The Bahamas is here to stay.