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Baha Mar Chief Urges Rapid Vaccination For Tourism Revival Boost

photo

Graeme Davis

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Baha Mar’s president yesterday urged the government to fully vaccinate The Bahamas against COVID-19 “as quickly as possible” so as to give tourism’s recovery a “competitive advantage”.

Graeme Davis told Tribune Business that vaccinating the entire population, especially hotel and tourism industry workers, would be a “huge” boost to traveller confidence and give The Bahamas a significant tool to use in marketing promotional strategies.

While much attention has been focused on the speed with which COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled-out in the US and other key tourist source markets, Mr Davis said The Bahamas was itself in a race against rival Caribbean and other tourism destinations to immunise its own population given that this, too, will be a critical factor in the strength and swiftness with which tourism recovers.

“I’m very confident we will bounce back,” the Baha Mar chief told this newspaper. “It’s just a matter of persevering through this time where everything is focused on COVID-19, and the COVID-19 virus is eliminated here in The Bahamas and we quickly get vaccinated.

“If the entire country gets vaccinated, we will be able to market The Bahamas as COVID-19 free and fully immunised. That will give us a very wonderful advantage versus other destinations that the entire country is vaccinated. I look forward to that being done as quickly as we can; getting people vaccinated.”

Pointing out that it should “not be a huge undertaking” to vaccinate a 400,000-strong population, which was smaller than most other countries, Mr Davis added: “It’s certainly possible to do that here in a short amount of time.

“If we tell our key markets that our entire country is vaccinated, the confidence in travelling to The Bahamas will be huge, and the bounce back of the lodging industry that makes up 60 percent of the economy” will be that much quicker.

Mr Davis said vaccinating all hotel and tourism industry employees against COVID-19 would have a similar effect, adding: “Just marketing the lodging and hospitality sector as being immunised, as soon as that happens that will be a huge deal for travel consumer confidence that all workers are immunised, and the public relations impact to us is positive.”

The prime minister yesterday reiterated that the government has secured enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to immunise 20 percent of the Bahamian population via the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) COVAX facility, and is also looking to access additional supplies from the manufacturers themselves as well as the African Medical Supplies Platform (ASMP) via CARICOM.

However, the timing of when the vaccines will arrive in The Bahamas, as well as which ones will be used, are “still being worked out” with Dr Hubert Minnis describing the roll-out as “one of the greatest logistical challenges that the country has ever undertaken”. The details of the distribution plan have yet to be released.

Mr Davis, meanwhile, voiced hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be “a once-in-a-lifetime event that we don’t see again” for the hotel and tourism industry, adding: ‘I don’t think any of us have experienced anything like this for an extended period.”

Amid the ongoing confusion and uncertainty over whether the Biden administration will impose a mandatory quarantine on all travellers returning to the US from abroad, Mr Davis urged the Government and private sector to keep “lobbying” for The Bahamas to be exempted from these US protocols on the basis of its presently low infection rates.

The Prime Minister yesterday said this had been acknowledged by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was preparing to upgrade The Bahamas from ‘Level 4’ or “very high risk” in its COVID-19 travel alert to US citizens to ‘Level 3’ or just “high” risk.

Mr Davis said the CDC move would “help more from a corporate and group perspective” than with leisure travel, as he added: “I can also say we encourage the Government and all of us in the private sector to continue lobbying the US government to have an exemption from testing to go to back to the US and exemption from any quarantine for going back to the US from The Bahamas.

“That would certainly improve travel demand for The Bahamas, and give us a significant competitive advantage over other Caribbean destinations and destinations globally, if we have an exemption from testing and quarantines. That will give the confidence to the consumer they can return swiftly without any issues.”

The Baha Mar president says his resort, and others, were well-placed to cope with the CDC’s demand that all returning US travellers produce a negative COVID test taken within three days of their trip due to the testing facilities they are already providing to guests on-property.

Mr Davis also revealed that Baha Mar had paid-out more than $70m last year to employees after the pandemic hit via a mixture of ex-gratia payments, benefits, payroll and severance pay. This, he argued, made the Cable Beach-based mega resort “probably the single largest employer in payments and support that filters down to the entire community”.

“It’s a major benefit when we’re paying associates to stay home,” Mr Davis said.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 2 months, 1 week ago

lol. now they want to vaccinate us so the tourists could feel comfortable.

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SipPis 2 months, 1 week ago

Why is that funny? How else will tourists come here sooner and help our tourism dependent econonmy? I guess we could wait until the rest of the world gets vaccinated while we keep going broke and read china virus theories online.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 1 week ago

it's funny because it's not about keeping "us" alive. Once again the tourist is king in our land. DAguilar was ready to lock all Bahamians up for another 6 months while tourists would be allowed to roam about and visit beaches. Go back and check it.

And everyone gets how important tourism is but do yuh think for once they could act like Bahamians important too?

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SipPis 2 months, 1 week ago

The tourist employs us in our land. As far as our economy is concerned, he is king. What could be more important than vaccinating Bahamians so they can stop fearing a virus and also feed their families? Was the president of Bahamar supposed to add the obvious point that the vaccine would also be good for us? He may as well explain that wearing your seat belt is good practice while he's at it.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 1 week ago

actually yeah. He could have said 1. it would protect the people and 2. it could give tourists confidence. Do I believe hes an uncaring man? Of course not. Like I said I found it extremely funny that once again, and for such a life and limb topic, the message relayed was Bahamians last. (DAguilar for example makes no bones about what he thinks about Bahamian people especially black ones. He's extremely plain spoken. And I don't think DAguilar is evil either, he just has a very "particular" world view)

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SipPis 2 months, 1 week ago

D'Aguilar has nothing to do with Davis' comments about improving tourism for the sake of the country. But both men are rightfully focused on increasing tourism, which again is only a positive for the people of the Bahamas. How does it put them last to get them vaccinated and employed and our economy humming? Getting tourists here is very much in our own self-interest. If they don't come here they'll go elsewhere, perhaps where people don't try to turn everything in to an unnecessary us vs them grievance.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 1 week ago

we could go back and forth all day. I STILL think the message was hilarious because I STILL believe Mr Davis could have given one sentence on how Bahamians would be protected. (FYI and thats why I put DAguilar in brackets. a general but not directly related comment on how Bahamians are spoken of by top officials)

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tribanon 2 months, 1 week ago

Graeme Davis is a lackey of Fook Enterprises, the Communist Chinese controlled owner of Baha Mar. That's make him a de facto agent of the very sinister Communist Chinese Party (CCP) which unleashed the deadly Chinese Virus on the world to begin with. And now we see him pushing on behalf of the CCP for all Bahamians to get jabbed with a WHO/PAHO marketed vaccine likely developed by his own very evil task masters. No thank you Mr. Graeme. I ain't that fool. For all we know, these rapidly developed vaccines being pushed today, with no long term studies of their possible side effects, may well be softening up one's immune system for the next deadly virus to be created and unleashed on mankind by the CCP.

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Proguing 2 months, 1 week ago

After the China virus, the China masks, here comes the China vaccine. They got everything covered.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 1 week ago

lol. There should be no shortage of jobs for Bahsmians. I sure we could put together a comedy sketch for Netflix that would rival Chapelle

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Bahamian1640 2 months, 1 week ago

Apparently the posters on this article want The Bahamas to remain locked down indefinitely. Once the virus is allowed to run rampant we could perhaps call ourselves world leaders in Covid mutations

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 1 week ago

you missed the point... well my point. If you could check back on my position it's always been a vaccine is the only thing that will save us. I still believe that. What I found hilarious was the way the message was relayed. Vaccine all a dem so the tourists feel comfortable. and while a vaccine will save us, are we confident about this one or are we rushing like we did July 1? so those things added together was the point.

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tribanon 2 months, 1 week ago

Good luck trying to stop the mutations by any kind of wide spread vaccination program. Fauci and the likes of Gates have for decades been promoting virology research with their communist friends aimed at "gain of transmissibility and mutation functions".

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