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‘Focus Is To Get Tourism Industry Back On Track’

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE government is looking at several dates to resume tourism operations in the country, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar revealed yesterday.

He added that officials are in constant discussions over the matter, but will not make any final decisions until given the “green light” by health professionals.

In the meantime, the minister said tourism officials will be revisiting their marketing campaign and strategising on how to facilitate visitors to the country once the COVID-19 restrictions have lifted.

He said: “My focus as the minister of tourism is to really get our tourism industry back on track. We have all of the industry partners meeting and strategising on how we’re going to open given these new COVID conditions.

“It’s very inclusive and everybody’s participating looking at the airports looking at how you travel from the airports to the hotel, what’s the process going to be when you go into the hotel. What are the requirements for foreign visitors coming into the country?”

He continued: “(We’re) looking at other destinations to see when they’re opening and when we want to open. (We’re) taking into consideration local concerns and so it’s a very robust and time-consuming conversation that is preparing our industry to re-open and get foreign currency coming back in and get foreign visitors coming back in the country to get people employed.”

Last month, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis unveiled a phased strategy for re-opening the Bahamian economy, saying the country’s advancement to each stage will be determined by “metrics and advice by the healthcare professionals.”

According to the plan, the country is currently in phase 1b, which allows businesses to offer pick-up and delivery services if they are able to do so. It is not clear when the country will move to the next stage or even the fifth stage, which would allow The Bahamas’ borders to open for international travel and for tourism to resume.

Speaking on the matter yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar told reporters that officials had several dates “in mind” concerning the opening of the country’s borders and the restart of the tourism economy.

He said: “So, we’ve got some dates in mind. I would prefer not to put them in the public domain yet. It’s a function of how we’re doing or how we’re perceived to be doing on the ground from a health perspective.

“So, we’re working towards a reopening and just waiting for the green light from the Ministry of Health that we’re good to go. Obviously, that’s going to be balanced with economic considerations. Those are very pressing. People are looking to be reengaged and get back to work so these are all the difficult decisions in this current environment of governance.”

Still, the minister said he was confident that the Bahamian economy will be able to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this, the Freetown MP said, will be based on the US’ ability to rebound from the pandemic, given the fact that most of the country’s visitors are Americans.

“Our initial indication was that people want to travel but you can’t negate the fact that unemployment in the United States is now in excess of 30 million,” he told reporters yesterday.

“They are very much going through the throes of opening that economy and they are trying to navigate that process and they are a little bit more open than other jurisdictions, so we have to come to grips with that because 82 percent of our foreign visitors come from the United States.”

He added: “So, if we’re going to rebound, we’re going to have to rebound with America and so we have to sort of get comfortable with the way that they are conducting this whole or how they’re addressing this whole COVID-19 pandemic so its lots of pressing questions and lots of concerns.”

“But I’m confident that if there’s a country that’s going to rebound, it’s going to be The Bahamas because we are wonderfully positioned next to the United States. They just have to get their economy back on track.”

Asked yesterday whether his ministry could afford to keep its workers employed given the economic fall-out from COVID, the tourism minister replied: “I think that’s a general discussion across all of the ministries of the government and I’m sure that the government is looking at everything, taking into consideration the incredibly difficult times in which we face.

“I mean the minister of finance has said that revenues are down 60 or 70 percent. It’s obvious some sort of adjustments are going to be necessary to either rebuild revenue and get our tourism industry back on track as quickly as possible and to get the revenue coming back in because you can’t run this type of deficit for too long or you either have to borrow or cut.”

Comments

SP 2 weeks, 5 days ago

The government and Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar have only one chance to get the resumption of tourism operations in the country "right" and following the US course of action to date is NOT the way to go!

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US leading infectious diseases expert, expressed a fear that if cities begin to reopen too soon, as they already have, "there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control".

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fauci-se...">https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fauci-se...

The Bahamas would be s-t-u-p-i-d to open our borders to the US until they have their COVID_!9 situation under control according to CDC guidelines.

The government and Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar better sit up and pay attention, because Bahamians will not be at all forgiving if they allow their eagerness to please corporate America and the US to lead us backward into lockdowns, sickness, and death in the fight against COVID19!

Let us not rush into causing our own detriment. We have suffered for weeks already. A few more weeks of pain is better than an obvious worse alternative!

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 5 days ago

What the hell and why hell not when with the sudden undeading of the virus's deaded goin' on - the minister of tourism and aviation's visitors' prayers be answered. by promoting worldwide to have thousand comrades pilgrimages be making their spiritual journey to head down to we colony of 700 islands and cays to see this Imperialists' redshirts miracle, up close.
And for but a few extra tourist dollars - they will get see, exactly how to be tested positive for the killer virus - then retested back to normal health? Two miracles cases have done been government officials confirmed. Just can't make this nutty up. Just, can't. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 5 days ago

"We’re looking at other destinations to see when they’re opening and when we want to open."

wrong move. We are not other destinations. We are "us".

Other destinations are moving based on completely different set of circumstances than us. You cannot say well The Hyat open in Florida so we could open too. Did Florida complete testing of all health workers, all policemen? do they have a sanitation system in place for public spaces and schools? have they deployed temperature checking equipment at all businesses? have they completed testing of the elderly etc etc.

Knew this was going to happen. Can't we do anything methodically? And why cant we think? Why do we have to copy what other people doing? We wouldnt be in the cyrrent situation if we'd taken sensible steps instead of following Trump

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happyfly 2 weeks, 5 days ago

This FNM Government is by far and away the weakest, most unimaginative bunch of losers we have ever had in power. They blindly followed bad advice into this ridiculous lockdown and now they want to see what everyone else is doing to come out of it. My lord we are all doomed. Just know this one thing you bunch of 'fake leaders'. A year and a half from now when it turns out that there were far better alternatives to managing this virus than communist styled lockdown - and you are having to raise VAT to 20%, raise prime lending interest rates to 20% to keep the $B peg, raising duty on everything and we are all still unemployed..............nobody is going to be thanking you for scaring the bajesus out of everyone and locking us up every weekend. Nobody will remember the people you claim to have saved. You will just be voted out and remembered as the folks that caused the worst economic crisis in Bahamian History.

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Porcupine 2 weeks, 5 days ago

There is really only one solution to our poor leadership. But, to say so is to be banned from commenting. This is what a true democracy looks like, huh? Why do we keep voting clowns into office?

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The_Oracle 2 weeks, 5 days ago

You have only one hope for the return of tourism, And that is the will and want of people to travel internationally and go on vacation. Particularly visit the Bahamas. Now, if it were me, I'd be wanting to know the rates of infection in any country i'm going to visit, and maybe even the mortality rate but more importantly the capability to get treated properly by the local health care system. On the last two counts we fail. Perhaps this highlights a prior national faiiure, that of the failure to adopt Medical tourism. The failure to be integrated with and into the U.S. Florida Health care system. Lord know our people are, both as patients and in professional capacities in that system.

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SP 2 weeks, 5 days ago

Unquestionably, as a tourism-based economy, we must figure out how to get our number one industry back up and running in the shortest possible time. However, what we do not need is to succumb to pressure, open the borders, and allow tourists to reintroduce COVID-19, leading to an outbreak that we cannot handle and certainly cannot afford!

One sensible solution to opening the borders is to find a way to work with our partners in following established protocol used with returning Bahamians last week and insist every individual prove they are COVID-19 negative using the test we accept to be the most accurate.

This may be a bit cumbersome and inconvenient for travelers, but everyone should be happy knowing we did all possible to secure their safety.

Airlines and cruise operators have enough clout to secure any number of tests required to make this work.

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The_Oracle 2 weeks, 5 days ago

But Look at the bright side! look at all the money we are not paying out to subsidize tourists to come here! Look at all the refunds of departure taxes and arrival taxes and dockage etc etc we aren't paying out to cruise lines and airlines! We must be saving a fortune! Anyone else see the irony in this?

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TalRussell 2 weeks, 5 days ago

A serial vocalist well trained at singin' for 'em Supper. 'Em and Jeff, had lots of on the job work practice out at Cable Beach whilst on the payroll one Comrade developer Izzy?
Regardless of what 'em says to the newspaper's reporter, 'em is scared shit of being turfed out of the Churchill Building for fear 'em too will land in the front the monument to rest at the feet of comrade sister Loretta's grandpappy Sir Milo. Just can't make these two blokes up. Just, can't. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

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