0

Final Countdown To A New Reality: D’Aguilar Warns Phased Reopening Must Show We Can Meet July 1 Targets

TOURISM Readiness and Recovery Committee, pictured from left: Carlton Russell, President, Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association and VP Operations, Atlantis; Robert Sands, Sr. VP, BHTA and SVP of Government and Community Relations, Baha Mar; Suzanne Pattusch, Executive VP, BHTA; Minister D’Aguilar; Director General Joy Jibrilu; Vernice Walkine, VP, BHTA and CEO and President, Nassau Airport Development Co. Ltd.; and Stuart Bowe, Immediate Past President, BHTA, and Sr. VP and GM Hotel Operations, Atlantis. Photo: Kemuel Stubbs/BIS

TOURISM Readiness and Recovery Committee, pictured from left: Carlton Russell, President, Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association and VP Operations, Atlantis; Robert Sands, Sr. VP, BHTA and SVP of Government and Community Relations, Baha Mar; Suzanne Pattusch, Executive VP, BHTA; Minister D’Aguilar; Director General Joy Jibrilu; Vernice Walkine, VP, BHTA and CEO and President, Nassau Airport Development Co. Ltd.; and Stuart Bowe, Immediate Past President, BHTA, and Sr. VP and GM Hotel Operations, Atlantis. Photo: Kemuel Stubbs/BIS

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

ts-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

THE Bahamas’ tourism industry will begin a phased opening on June 15 when boaters, yachters and private pilots will be allowed into the country, the Ministry of Tourism announced yesterday.

The industry’s much anticipated full opening will take place on July 1.

Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar made the announcement at a Zoom press conference held by his ministry and the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee.

“This phased approach will start on June 15, when boaters, yachters and private aviation will be invited to experience The Bahamas destination,” Mr D’Aguilar said. “Tourism will begin with these smaller, special interest groups as they provide a more controlled segment to test its measure. These groups will have to pre-register electronically, allowing health officials to determine their risk level.”

He added that during this phase, commercial airlines will be allowed to bring in Bahamian citizens, legal residents, homeowners or their immediate family members. All returning residents will have to obtain a monocular swab PCR COVID-19 test with a negative result. On Monday, Mr D’Aguilar told The Tribune officials are still considering whether the government will require tourists to produce a negative PCR test result to gain entry into the country but have ruled out visitors being forced into quarantine.

It is anticipated that during this first phase, there will be a reduced number of flights and airlines will begin adding The Bahamas to their schedules once again.

Additionally, he said yesterday, hotels will begin reopening to allow staff to begin to work, putting in place all the measures required to ensure they are ready for the full opening on July 1.

“Readying The Bahamas for tourism in a post-COVID world is quite challenging with many nuances and considerations to plan for,” said Mr D’Aguilar.

“The Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee was established to develop a collaborative plan for reopening and to provide health and safety protocols to be followed consistently across the country. Because of the detailed plan that is being put forth, I am confident that tourism is prepared to officially open its borders, hotels and transportation sector successfully to international commercial travel on July 1, 2020.”

The tourism industry generated a record 7.2 million visitors in 2019. However, in March Mr D’Aguilar said we were facing an economic calamity due to COVID-19 bringing tourism to a screeching halt.

“The sacrifice has been huge,” he said. “The affects on employment and income generation have been enormous for many, many Bahamians. I am delighted to be here and change the discussion from one about lockdowns and curfews to one about reopening. The one thing you learn about tourism, is that it is extremely resilient. Yes, it is subject to shocks, like hurricanes, economic downturns and now pandemics, but no matter what type of licking you put on tourism, it always seems to bounce back better and stronger.”

Although excited about the reopening date, Mr D’Aguilar warned travel and tourism will be markedly different from what it was prior to COVID-19. Many new policies, safety measures and precautions, he said, will be introduced to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of Bahamian residents and visitors alike.

“It is critical, however, that health and safety protocols are adhered to and that the health sector remains in a state of readiness to respond,” the minister added. “Therefore, before the proposed general opening of our borders on the 1st of July, it is intended that there be a phased opening of the tourism sector prior to this date.

“It is important that once the destination reopens we are able to demonstrate immediately that we are indeed in a state of readiness. The Ministry of Tourism is of course very pleased with the announcement made yesterday (Monday) that will see the return of domestic travel in the Islands of the Bahamas for residents and review this as the beginning of the whole readiness efforts. This measure certainly allows LPIA to test their protocols before welcoming guests when we reopen completely.”

Phase Two of the tourism reopening plan, which begins July 1, includes resumption of commercial airlines both international and domestic; reopening of hotels and vacation rentals inclusive of Airbnb and HomeAway; as well as transportation ranging from taxis to buses. The timing of the other phases and sectors will be announced shortly, the minister said.

Tourism Director General Joy Jibrilu could not give exact figures on forward bookings, but said the numbers will be available shortly.

“I think from today with the announcement that we have made, we are able to reach out and let them know that they now can load up The Bahamas as a destination,” she noted. “The interest that we are seeing generated and the feedback for August and September and certainly Thanksgiving period, we can begin getting actual bookings. In a very short period of time we will be able to put tangible figures behind that. But it was very difficult for airlines to know what to do about The Bahamas until they knew definitively from us when we will reopen.”

She said similarly for the hotels, now they can announce officially July 1 as an opening day and can report to tourism officials about forward bookings.

All tourism-related staff will have to be retrained using COVID-19 safety measures before the July 1 reopening date, officials said.

Comments

moncurcool 3 months, 3 weeks ago

How do you have a controlled segment with boaters and yachters who can enter anywhere in the Bahamas without detection or registration at a port?

Then how do you require Bahamians returning back home to have a test, but you have yet to determine whether visitors will have to produce a test? Hen will Bahamians stoped being discriminated in their won country? If you require a Bahamian to show a test, you better darn well require a tourist to have one. We need to stop being willing to sell out our own to tourists for a couple cents.

Then how the hell the Tourism Director General all over the place talking about the bookings look good, but them when pressed on numbers cannot give any? Are you serious? IF you claiming people want to come, the least I think you should have is the figures to prove your claim!

1

mandela 3 months, 3 weeks ago

So it will be fair to state that on June 15 Nassauvians will be able to go on our beaches or do we also have to wait for the tourist to come in and enjoy our beaches first and while we watch them swimming we will be wishing and have to wait until July 1st.

0

Hoda 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I think it’s important that we take note of the classism and rascism that We fund. If you turn on a vpn, for instance, and jump on YouTube you see all manner of advertisements featuring white or mulatto people lounging, sailing through are crystal waters, or Lenny kravits driving speed boat. We, black people, are usually serving or making conch salad in these videos, and the garbage filled streets of new Providence do not appear. I only say this to opine, that I hope we keep the same energy in relation to our covid motivation to diversify this economy. Not to abandon tourism, but to expedite Bahamians to a different role or status in tourism. That is not to deny that we do have examples of Bahamian ownership in hotels and transportation etc. I wish the country would not be so reliant on big resort hotels and that More smaller boutique hotels, maybe no bigger than a Turnberry in Aventura could pop, and really propel The ownership factor.

0

joeblow 3 months, 3 weeks ago

... you may not have observed that Bahamians do not live by principles, in fact most do not know what the word means. As long as they have money in their pocket to spend and can pleasure themselves, most Bahamians are happy. As a people we do not think or plan strategically and as a result most are slaves in their own country, working on the plantation called resorts, with banks funding their illusions.

0

The_Oracle 3 months, 3 weeks ago

You will be in quarantine while the tourists enjoy the beaches...... Has anyone on Bay St taken any time during these curfews and lockdowns to freshen up or refurb their stores? Has the Government taken the opportunity to pressure wash the sidewalks, effect repairs to sidewalks etc? I mean, you don't just shut it down walkaway and return 3 months later....... Personally I think we are in for a very slow restart.

1

Dawes 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Where would those bay street stores get the money from to refurb their stores? They are no doubt like all trying to work out if they can survive

0

ThisIsOurs 3 months, 3 weeks ago

May be they're counting on the boat people to stay on the boat and mot shoot at anyone. If they do that they'd be technically isolated. Wishful thinking.

0

TalRussell 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Adds up being the native have always been chased off the colony's private beaches.
*Knowing the true workings
comrade minister Dioniso James and his Imperialists' crown colleagues it would shock but a handful if they didn't actually attempt to pull off maintaining a strict shelter-at- home curfew of PopoulacesOrdinary At Large POAL, whilst the tourists and foreigner residents roam freely about Colony's 700 islands and Cays. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

0

TalRussell 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The colony's 700 out islands and cays can no longer tolerate NO such thing as class restricted private beaches!
Ma comrade ThisisOurs, many new changes are called for the other side virus and must include a clear policy that no longer will it be tolerated where any member colony's PopoulacesOrdinary At Large POAL, tourists or visitors, should ever again be denied full and unrestricted beach access.

0

tribanon 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Minnis has shown over the past 3 months that there is no limit to the pain and suffering he is willing to inflict on the Bahamian people. And for what?!! So that he could anxiously welcome back with open arms the foreigners. True to form, Minnis and D'Aguilar are now quick to roll out the red carpet for foreigners all the while treating us Bahamians as second class citizens in our own country. Unbelievable!

0

ThisIsOurs 3 months, 3 weeks ago

"Final Countdown To A New Reality: D’Aguilar Warns Phased Reopening Must Show We Can Meet July 1 Targets"

Right. They will open no matter what. By now they should have been able to show us all the milestones in their 122 page document, the length of time required to complete each, what stage it's at/how much more time to complete. Whether any of the tasks are dependent on each other and tell us with reasonable certainly whether they believe they can complete all of it in a month. The fact that they've done mind of that is both telling and scary.

Its clear that the real plan is to talk up action then open.

0

stillwaters 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The new real reality is that if you ask tourists who want to come for a week to quarantine for two weeks, they won't come. If they don't come, the Bahamas is up shit creek and in deep doodoo......is that real enough for you?????

0

ThisIsOurs 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Noones asking them to quarantine. What they're saying is why are Bahamians required to take a test to enter but tourists aren't. I don't know why returning Bahamians were being asked to quarantine in the first place, seemed like overkill. In fact if they were serious they should have used those returning Bahamians to test the plan that they claim is ready.

This is troubling @stillwaters. They're rushing to meet a date as opposed to selecting a date to meet readiness

The only people who should be quarantined are persons who display symptoms. I don't think the fever is persistent. So one thing they could have done was require visitors to wear a mandatory temperature check wrist gauge. Unusual temperature spikes calls for deeper investigation

0

truetruebahamian 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Talrussel, these days when I see your comments I have to ignore them because I can't go about nodding my head when it takes all I can to keep from shaking it.

0

TalRussell 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I see ma comrade Truetrue, why a-whole lot-ta shakin' goin' at my posts but not at all the fake values traveling around for we colony's useless stocks that grow before suddenly... disappears?
Don't you think there could be's lots of forced unavoidable and honest demands get your books straight placed upon the government, public, and private bookkeeping revealing to come on the other financial side of the virus. Are you nodding, yeah?

0

Chucky 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Clearly opening and all shows this pandemic lockdown etc was not about a pandemic, but some other sinister plan by the world leaders to oppress the people. Lest you’d rather believe all the risk is done and gone as of June 15/July 1st. Remember folks it’s possible one plane to carry more infected people than our country has had to date. So either we’ve been through a serious and deadly pandemic, and the risk persists, and is real, and therefore plane loads of people is akin to suicide; or this has all been about something else! You decide what to believe. Remember our government happily overtaxed, undereducated and enslaved us with insurmountable debt; so it’s not like they displayed scare in the world about us little people.

Try and get just one leader to rationalize opening when they can’t establish that the first plane load of people won’t bring 5, or 10 or 20 new cases , and within a couple days we would have more cases than all we’ve had to date.

Clearly a fake pandemic

1

ThisIsOurs 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Or its not a fake pandemic and grammy is screwed.

I think it's the latter. They've decided the economy is more important than grammy. I agree with the sentiment that this is just like the normal flu. Sure the death rate in the short term is greater but thats because it's new. Throwing ventilators at untrained medical people probably also resulted in people dying. The economic impact (my opinion) was more fear than virus. The main reason I say it's just like the normal flu is because not everyone has to go to the hospital. Most people get it, feel a little off then get over it. But some can get severly ill. That mechanism sounds just like the flu...unlike Ebola where if you get that..well..

0

joeblow 3 months, 3 weeks ago

They want boaters to come in, but I still can't walk into a store with a mask to choose a bottle of wine?

How is it possible to know how vulnerable we are to a second wave of coronavirus if we have done zero antibody testing. At least Nassau could sustain a second wave better than the family islands because it has been here so long and some now have immunity. No one in Exuma, Eleuthera or other islands have been exposed at all making them more vulnerable!

Why rush to open up to have to close again?

0

John 3 months, 3 weeks ago

It is a disgrace what government/customs is allowing the Gladstone Freight Terminal to do to its customers. They are charging storage on shipments that came in since the Emergency lockdowns began in March up until the day customers pick up these goods. These freight charges can amount to hundreds, even Thousands of dollars and small businesses that have been closed for two months will find it difficult to pay these additional storage charges. The manager at the terminal claims they have been open ‘straight thru’ the pandemic and the fact that importers could not pick up the goods has nothing to do with them. Goods that arrive in The Bahamas are supposed to be warehoused by customs if they are not picked up after 6 to 10 days. However customs seems to have become complacent in warehousing freight and so this is become an additional source of income for the freight who make millions annu from storage fees. So government warehouse remains practically empty while these greedy and heartless freight companies Hogg up everything. And government needs every dime it can get

0

TigerB 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I was of the view that many wanted the country open. There will be a risk. Eleuthera and Exuma cried foul, said they were being punish...Them old people does always say, be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

0

ThisIsOurs 3 months, 3 weeks ago

true. But what Ive also read/heard and been saying myself: get the opening right. They appear to be just opening.

0

lovingbahamas 3 months, 3 weeks ago

A Covid test for anyone coming in is a total waste of resources and tests. The test only means at the moment you were tested (days ago) that you didn’t have the virus that day-not that you don’t have it the day you enter the Bahamas. Unless they have thousands of instantaneous result tests (which they don’t) to test on arrival-forget the test. This isn’t brain surgery.

0

Sign in to comment