By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Family Island tour providers yesterday said they fear being exposed to COVID-19 as business levels range from non-existent to 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
Glenrick Rolle, owner/operator of Glenrick’s Water Taxi Services on Bimini, told Tribune Business: “Things are good, but this Florida crowd has me scared. It has me a little scared and I have to use my common sense now and try to protect myself.”
He added that the COVID-19 virus is an “invisible thing”, and someone may become infected and not realise it for up to a week after coming into contact with a carrier.
However, Mr Rolle said he had eight tours booked yesterday, and added: “I could do a little more but my capacity is only 15 per trip, and I don’t want to carry more than that.
“As far as the people coming, we have to deal with them, but it is just that we have to protect ourselves. So everyone has their masks on and we try to social distance as much as possible, and just hope for the best and pray for the best.”
Mr Rolle said all tourism-related operators on Bimini are running at 50 percent volumes compared to what they had pre-COVID-19 and “maybe less than that during the week. That’s 50 percent on the weekends”.
He added: “It doesn’t matter what we say; the prime minister has a tough decision. He has to balance the economy and the health, and I wouldn’t want to be in his position.”
Yan Turnquest, owner/operator of Yan Turnquest Fishing/Tour Charter, said of the re-opening: “We need it, but in one way it’s good and in another way it’s bad.
“This downturn has impacted me a lot. I do tours and stuff for tourism, and I haven’t had any since March, so it’s on the down slope. We have to do our safety protocols for everybody. Like I said, it is good and it is bad, but we hope everybody follows the rules. A lot of people were calling, but no one has confirmed. I am hoping that things will pick up soon.”
Mr Turnquest said most of his business comes from persons visiting various places on Long Island. “I get Canadians and some Europeans, and a few from the United States,” he added.
“I have some natives booked in for the Independence weekend, but I have no foreigners booked in. I had a booking for July 8, which was a drop-off to Georgetown, Exuma, but they cancelled and told me that they were going to fly instead. But I haven’t had anything else booked otherwise.”
Sharon French, manager of the Eleuthera Outdoor Centre, in an e-mailed response said: “The virus has had a tremendous impact on our business. Every tour we had cancelled in a two-day time span, going from the busiest month we ever had to a dead stand-still.
“We have found new ways and implemented new procedures to make sure our guides and our guests are safe.”