‘Slow ramp up’ of tourism planned

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.


Tribune Staff Reporter


TOURISM Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday officials expect there will be a “slow ramp up” of tourist arrivals beginning next month heading into the spring season.

This comes after he expressed disappointment last month with the country’s tourism arrival numbers since border restrictions were softened in November, adding the pandemic has made fewer people want to travel.

The situation has forced some resorts, including Atlantis, to reduce staffing levels and place some workers back on furlough status due to COVID’s impact on the travel and by extension, the tourism industry.

The mega resort has blamed “lack of adequate airlift” and surge in COVID-19 infections in key US source markets as some of the leading factors that forced it decision to furlough some of the 2,500 staff who returned for the resort’s reopening in December.

Asked whether his ministry was concerned about the resort’s decision to do this, D’Aguilar said everyone must understand that with fewer tourists opting to travel due to the pandemic, business cannot go on as usual.

He also said it’s not uncommon for some properties to furlough some of their staff when there are low occupancy levels.

“You have to preface every discussion by saying that world tourism is down 70 percent,” he said. “Then you have to layer on top of that what is happening in the United States which is our core market. Ninety percent of our foreign visitors come from the United States and as you can see on the television each and every day, the amount of cases, the amount of (people) in hospital, the amount of people that have sadly died. So, Americans are not travelling obviously, internationally as much as they used to.

“If they are travelling, it’s to visit family, it’s a domestic travel and so we expect after Christmas after the new year for there to be a sharp fall off and then in February, March and April for there to be a slow ramp up. So, we did expect that to happen and you know the hotel business, the staffing levels are based on business so when business goes down, they reduce staffing levels, put people on one day a week and two days a week and then when business comes up, they increase the staff.

“So that has happened in this industry for many years and it’s no different.”

Speaking to The Tribune on Monday, Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union president Darrin Woods claimed Atlantis management did not follow provisions set out in an industrial agreement regarding how employees are to be furloughed.

He added that while the union understands the current economic climate, there is a process that should be followed and respected.

Atlantis employees returned to work on December 10, after the mega resort closed in March due to COVID-19 restrictions that affected travel and movement as well as a surge in cases in the United States and other key markets.

It is not clear how many employees are now temporarily furloughed.


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