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Can Bay Street Survive ‘Til Cruise Ships Return?

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has questioned whether Bay Street can “hold on” for the return of the cruise ship market, which is the lifeline of businesses down town.

He raised the question as he predicted it will take until at least 2022 before 80 percent of tourists who contributed to 2019’s peak arrivals return.

But full-scale visitor arrivals will “take a while” the minister said.

However, he said there was pent up demand for the country as many search for tourist friendly destinations to break the lockdown fatigue and other COVID-19 restrictions.

“There is no doubt that there is pent up demand to travel,” Mr D’Aguilar said in an interview earlier this week.

“People are frustrated with lockdowns. Frustrated with the inability to travel and to mix and mingle how they’ve always done in the past. So, I think that once the vaccine rolls out and a certain amount of Americans become vaccinated, I think they will travel like crazy.”

He added: “It will be quite some time because there is no doubt that economic impact in the United States because of COVID because businesses are closed. People are being wiped out so you can’t expect that it’s going to be completely elastic where you bounce right back to 2019.

“…I mean British Airways just laid off 12,000 people. So, is it going to come back that quick? I don’t know and those people have had to borrow money and get themselves into a situation where they had to live with this so it’ll be some time before you get back to the peak of 2019,” he said.

Asked if he thought it could take about five years before there is some normalcy to tourism, the minister said: “I would say greater than three years. I can’t see that far in advance, but I think very quickly probably 80 percent of it will come back, but the last 20 percent it will take a while.

“…(80 percent of those numbers) in 2022 that’s my prediction (and at least three years for a full rebound) as people catch themselves and get confident again.”

He said The Bahamas’ location would work in its favour.

“The Bahamas, of course, is wonderfully positioned, especially for the cruise ship market because of our location. We’ll have a beautiful new cruise port in the next two years, so we’ll be in a great position to bounce back in the cruise market. We’ll be in a great position to bounce back very quickly.”

Traditionally, the minister said cruise ship customers were loyal.

“We obviously will be the main beneficiary of that. But the problem is can Bay Street hold on until then? That’s the concern.

“Cruising isn’t expected to return until probably the first quarter or second quarter of next year so by the time they rally back up then they gotta work out all their kinks they are probably going to start off by going to private islands, then they gonna come to Nassau. So, the first quarter of next year probably the later part of the first quarter before they start hitting here.

“That will make the effect of COVID on this country one year because March 19 it started so that would be a whole year. It’s very very difficult for businesses that are in rent scenarios and whether they can hold on unless they just shut down and hunker down and hold their money and tell their landlord he gotta wait, as some may be doing. So, it’s a challenge.

“It’s a real challenge. It’s a nightmare,” Mr D’Aguilar said.

Comments

mandela 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Governments and the private down town retailers made it all but impossible for the natives to want to shop on Bay street, so they need to sit still and wait until their beloved tourist returns in the not so near future.

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TalRussell 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Eliminate era the Bay Street Boys and be done it!
Dioniso James's dependency cruise travel to we colony of 1200 out islands, cays, and rocks, and the little left of the magic Sir Stafford's old Bay Street, should be allowed to continue onward with its own fault of decaying self-destructing.
Shakehead once for upyeahvote, tis that time reach Dioniso James to move on back to his craft of washin, dryin' and pressin' clothes, twice for not?

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FrustratedBusinessman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Bahamians : Good for those Bay Street Boys, about time they got run out of business

Also Bahamians : We need more jobs, our people are starving and can't pay rent.

This country is truly unique.

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Many of those 'ole Bay Street families long ago moved on to much more lucrative endeavours. Much of Bay Street is now owned by black Bahamians, Greeks and a few Chinese.

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K4C 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Most have left or passed on, the movement to Bahamian ownership has been a dismal failure, just THINK one glaring example Garet 'Tiger' Finlayson, says it all

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tribanon 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Yep. Many of the 'ole white Bay Street Boys and their families long ago moved on to much more lucrative endeavours when they realized the Bahamas could no longer attract spendthrift air arrival visitors and began pivoting to cheapskate sea arrival visitors instead. The crooked nouveau rich vultures swooped in and transformed Bay Street Street within a decade or so into the unsafe grave yard of run down, dilapidated and ghetto looking buildings we see today. Karma for the cheapskate cruiseline passengers and the cruise ship owners who put every dollar spent by their passengers into their own very greedy pockets. The Bahamas will never see better days as long as successive corrupt governments keep pandering to the equally corrupt cruise ship owners. Without an economic model that emphasizes much more spendthrift air arrival visitors, our tourism goose will never again be a golden one.

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K4C 1 month, 3 weeks ago

voting for the SAME PLP and FNM is what will happen for decades, that average D education has worked as designed

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SP 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Unfortunately, the reality is successive governments were brain dead mammoths with no hands-on experience in tourism, which explains why the sector regressed over the last 50 years.

The undeniable lesson that they should have learned from the cruise industry disaster, is we should be hastily shifting more focus to stay-over visitors, which is more sustainable and contributes 70% more to the local economy per capita, and is far more environmentally friendly than the greedy cruise ship industry that thinks it is their GOD given right to hog-up the majority of the tourism pie regardless of the fact that without the Bahamas and Caribbean destinations their cruise ships would totally useless.

Given our proximity to North and Latin America, what the government should be doing is devising ways to encourage these people to stay-over in the Bahamas. One obvious way of targeting a new wider stay-over market would be to reposition the Bahamas as a duty-free shopping destination. Why successive governments are blind to this is beyond comprehension.

Hotels and every business remotely connected to tourism would see massive growth in such volumes that any government revenue lost in duty-free sales would be tremendously offset by taxes collected from the rest of the tourism industry. Another bonus to the local economy would be Bahamians would shop at home rather than the U.S.

The cruise industry has it's positives as well, however, because of the massive volume they move, they are too greedy and too controlling, to rely on partnering in business with.

We must change direction or we will remain at the mercy of the cruise industry waiting for them to drop a few crumbs for our survival.

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