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D’Aguilar: Shark attacks will lead to changes in tourist excursions sector

Following two recent shark attacks on American tourists, one of whom died as a result, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said he believes the tourist excursions industry will take transformative measures to protect itself.

In June, an American woman died after being attacked by sharks in waters off Rose Island. Earlier this month, another American man was attacked in waters off Abaco.

“I’m sure that as foreign visitors decide which excursions they’re going to go on, they’re going to be a lot more discerning and they’re going to go with a business that demonstrates to them that they have the necessary safety protocols in place,” D’Aguilar told reporters.

“I think that companies probably never even thought, because we have had so few shark attacks over the last hundred years… that many companies did not even take that into consideration in terms of developing their safety protocols, but now they will. And so I think that the industry will transform itself based on what has transpired.”

Following the attacks, popular Bahamian excursion company Stuart’s Cove – which specializes in underwater adventures including shark dives – experienced a dip in business.

D’Aguilar said it’s hard to say how the shark attacks will affect tourism numbers.

“There have been numerous shark attacks all up and down the east coast of the United States. But I’m deeply saddened of course for the family whose daughter was tragically killed by the shark. And it’s very hard, everyone in the press wants to know how this is going to affect tourism, how is this going to affect people coming to the country. And it’s always very hard for one to discuss that knowing that this family has had that loss,” he said.

“We have to recognize that someone has suffered a tragic loss, but I always say we have 6.6 million foreign visitors come to our country and there are going to be accidents, and there are going to be freaks of nature, which I consider this shark attack to be.

“And so how we react to it and how we respond to it and how we attempt to mitigate it is probably more important, and you know, we’re certainly in discussions with the Ministry of Marine Resources, in discussions with the Ministry of Transport that’s responsible for licensing boats.

“Writing rules is no problem. It’s enforcing the rules that is the problem.”

Paige McCartney

Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas.
Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016.
Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News
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