COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the world. The global pandemic has resulted in several changes. Air travel is getting more limited by the day, with countries have numerous travel restrictions in place and airlines temporarily halting operations. Businesses in Europe and North America are also closing, altering business practices, or allowing employees to work from home.
So how will this impact the Bahamas? The nation relies heavily on tourism and unfortunately that is soon in all likelihood going to be taking a major blow. Tourism and Aviation Minister D’Aguilar highlighted the grim reality the country’s tourism sector is facing.
Minister D’Aguilar stated, “Our tourism industry will be strained to its very core”.
2019 was a record-breaking year for Bahamian tourism with 2.7 million visitors. In January, that showed no signs of slowing down with overall arrivals up by 7.9%. Now that has all changed. There has been a complete reversal on this trend as “forward booking data reveals absolutely no bookings in the foreseeable future”.
“Life as we know it will be fundamentally uprooted for the next 30-60 days,” D’Aguilar added. “To convince ourselves otherwise would be of profound detriment to the collective struggle we as Bahamians have begun to mount and will continue to mount against COVID-19 in the coming months. We must be candid, forthright and brutally honest with ourselves about what the next one to two months will look like.”
“Hotels will be vacant, ports will be deserted, streets will be empty. The lifeblood of our country will be devoid of the many millions of foreign visitors that are so economically impactful in our everyday life. We are facing an economic calamity that will almost certainly exceed that of Hurricane Dorian.”
Minister D’Aguilar was not completely defeated, however. While tourism will temporarily halt in the country, all that the Bahamas has to offer will remain once the pandemic slows down. As soon as flights and cruises are back up, tourism will boom. D’Aguilar is optimistic about the tourist industry’s long-term prospects as the industry has been proven resilient in the past.