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Tourism Grapples With 'New Normal'

Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A Cabinet minister yesterday said the tourism industry’s “contact sport” must grapple with a “new normal” focused on health and safety in a post-COVID-19 environment.

Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister for tourism and aviation, told reporters outside the Cabinet Office: “We are now grappling with the period after lockdown and curfew. We are trying to determine how best to get tourism cranked up and moving again.

“Tourism, as you can imagine, is a contact sport and, as the COVID-19 virus has demonstrated, coming into contact with people leads to community spread. So we have to devise a product, and devise a tourism industry, that lessens the contact but allows for the experience.”

Mr D’Aguilar added: “We have to figure out how a business could operate, a hotel or restaurant, in this new norm. How do we social distance in a business that, by and large, requires a lot of human contact.

“So businesses have to think how they are going to operate because a customer is going to want to know when I come to your place, I am not going to get sick, and the person that operates the place is going to want to know that when you come, you don’t make me sick. So we have to put in place protocols to ensure that everybody can operate in a safe and healthy environment.”

“Right now, if you look to our neighbours to the north, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, they are in the throes of COVID-19. They are in the middle of their surge. So they are not talking about tourism; in fact, nobody is talking about tourism.”

Mr D’Aguilar continued: “As we are with other light industries, we have to develop our domestic economy, and if people are afraid to travel overseas, travel in your own country. Go back and visit your family, obviously, when our surge is done with.

“So we have to be creative in getting money to circulate, and getting some sort of tourism off the ground. It is a difficult topic to discuss right now because everybody is focused elsewhere, keeping safe and healthy. But nonetheless we have to start to think about what’s going to happen after we finish with lockdowns and curfews. So that is where we are, and that is what we are contemplating right now.”

“No one is really focused on the domestic tourism per se, more so with the international tourism. That, of course, is the butter that butters our bread, and we obviously need to bring in foreign currency, and we obviously need to bring as many foreign visitors as we can to improve our economic situation,”he added.

“As it relates to domestic travel I am sure that numbers will be down, and market forces will determine the lowering of prices in order to allow people to travel and build up traffic.”

Comments

Clamshell 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Three realities:

  1. The Bahamas likely will lose NEXT YEAR’S tourist season as well as this year’s. Best plan for that revenue loss.

  2. The Bahamas’ cruise ship industry may never recover, and if it does it will take many, many years. Best plan for that revenue loss.

  3. The Bahamas will no longer be able to get away with charging tourists the highest taxes, fees and prices in this part of the world. Best plan for that revenue loss.

In short, Mr. D’Aguilar: Best plan for less “butter on your bread.”

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TalRussell 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Tribune photographer needs be dispatched be checking out this important story!
Talk be's cheap if later learned that comrade minister Dionisio James's tourism ministry's finances haven't been ensuring that we colony's delightful Swimming' Pigs are still being fed daily?
From all over the Globe, it’s the same story being repeated often: How Tourists so loved their experience be swimming amongst colony's pigs. Nod once for yeah, twice for no?

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SP 3 months, 4 weeks ago

@ TalRussell....Good point! for once I tempted possible brain damage to read and try to comprehend what you say, and I totally agree that someone should be responsible for looking after the swimming pigs and any other such excursion where animals are dependant on human interaction for survival.

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ThisIsOurs 3 months, 4 weeks ago

lol. if you like crossword puzzles Tal is fine. there are one or 2 posts that arent decipherable, but for the most part if PopulacesOrdinary take a minute theyll get it

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SP 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Minister for tourism and aviation, Dionisio D’Aguilar, has a valid concern. Nevertheless, he needs not to overthink this problem, as mega-resort destinations far dwarfing the Bahamas will soon come up with a consensus on how to deal with the issue.

Obviously, the very first concern must be to get the virus eradicated and be in a position to declare the country "Coronavirus-contained" or "Coronavirus-free".

Secondly, the Bahamas should seriously consider imposing mandatory quick testing for everyone upon arrival in the country, including returning residents from any country, and at a self-cost to the traveler.

If human nature is the same globally, China's recent travel resurgence overwhelmingly suggests people are willing to travel locally and on short trips.

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/articl...">https://edition.cnn.com/travel/articl...

That being said, the government should initially be looking into incentivizing domestic travel by cutting duties and VAT on imports purchased from family island destinations. This would immediately encourage inter-island tourism, and development, and provide an alternative to Bahamians running to the U.S. and Panama for shopping sprees, and the possibility of contracting the virus in crowded shopping malls abroad.

The Bahamas close proximity and ease of travel for over 400 million North Americans almost making us a "domestic trip" is another positive aspect that will weigh in greatly on the road to tourism travel recovery that regional competitors do not have.

The trickiest hat trick for Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister for tourism, remains how to increase tourism spend in a social distancing conscience environment!

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Clamshell 3 months, 4 weeks ago

One problem: Probably 80% of the U.S. tourists will refuse to fly for leisure travel until there is a vaccine. That could be 12-18 months from now. And cruise ships? Forget about it, nobody will be getting on one of those floating petri dishes.

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Hoda 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah. Furthermore, we could be Corona free that's great. Until these cruises and airlines get the OK to go from their respective health regulators we will still be fiddling our thumbs. Further, you know these airlines and cruises coming with the request for tax breaks for landing and docking or whatever it is.

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SP 3 months, 4 weeks ago

@ Clamshell....Obviously, you either did not take the time to read the provided linked article or did not comprehend what was published.

Regardless, we all need to stop the normal doom and gloom whining and accept the PM's invitation to throw out our collective ideas and see what possibly works best for benefit of all of the country.

Complaining and bitching have never solved any problems and won't now.

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juju 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Encourage sail and motor boat cruisers and eco tourists., bonefishing. Private airplane owners Get back to basics. The way it was 50 yrs ago. A good place to start. The Family Islands.

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gbgal 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Exactly what I was thinking. Return to the basics to ease back into the Tourism trade. Promote the clean and pristine environment amidst the allure of Mother Nature together with our true, true Bahamian culture and hospitality. We have to clean house and listen to what our visitors crave.

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Our urban brand of tourism will not be demand …….. need to promote the Out Islands and secluded rocks & cays …… Swimming with the Pigs, Sting rays, Turtles, & Sharks cannot give one Covid

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