Wednesday, Jul 8, 2020
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Some in tourism sector still have concerns about reopening


n the eve of the country’s borders reopening after having been closed since March due to COVID-19, some Bahamians are eager, yet concerned, to see the tourism industry make its recovery.

Angelo Dean, 40, said, “I think it’s a good idea to reopen the country but we must take proper measures to ensure the safety of the [people].

“The island reopening will be good [as] everyone was impacted by tourism shutting down in one way or the other. It slowed the whole country down, so, even if you were an essential worker, just the wait on gas, food and other business being closed, it affected us all.”

Cheryl Cambridge, owner of Cheryl’s Bahamas Taxi and Tours, also stressed the need for safety in reopening, but said she is excited, as most of her clients were tourists.

Cambridge, whose taxi service has been in operation for decades, said, “We’re prepared for whenever, to make sure the customer’s safe and, most of all, our drivers are safe.

“We did our [Ministry of Tourism] compliance [course] and the greeters at the airport were properly trained that whenever a customer comes out, each one of them will be sprayed with disinfectant.”

She said her taxis will each be carrying sanitizing equipment and extra masks to provide to guests if needed.

Although the Ministry of Tourism has projected a slow uptick in tourism, Cambridge anticipates high demand as of tomorrow, noting that she’s already had quite a number of bookings from past guests who said they are happy to be returning.

Cambridge voiced concern, however, about the tourism industry being forced to close again if Bahamians in general do not take the health protocols seriously.

“A lot of people, they are not listening [to health guidelines],” Cambridge said.

“As we drive around, you could see a lot of people not wearing [masks]. If we don’t take this thing serious, we will have to close down again.”

She noted the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in some U.S. states, which has some people concerned about whether the reopening of the borders should proceed as planned, but cautioned that The Bahamas should avoid experiencing such a surge that would cause the government to undo lifted restrictions.

“It would be detrimental for the whole, entire Bahamas,” Cambridge continued.

“See, we can’t let a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. Like the prime minister says, we have to be careful and listen; adhere to the law.”

She added, “If we would be serious like how I’m being serious with the whole staff, then I think we will make it. But if we don’t be serious, we’re not going to make it.”

But Ian Williams, 23, said he was hoping that the pandemic would have spurred a change from tourism being the country’s primary industry.

“Well, you know that’s the country’s bread and butter, but I would have hoped that throughout the COVID pandemic, that would have taught the country not to be as heavily dependent on one sector,” he said.

“But it seems as though the government is still going to follow suit into that trap and putting tourism as the platform of all of our revenues, sad to say.

“But, moving forward, I hope that proper protocols and measures are taken in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and that the government wasn’t just in a haste to open up the economy to get a few dollars to help with this slow period or economic decline that we are currently experiencing, and will be experiencing for the next year or so.”

Williams added: “So, I don’t know. I have mixed feelings on it. I’m happy that the economy is opening for international travel [but], still, there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

The borders are set to reopen tomorrow as the Ministry of Tourism moves into its second phase of reopening.

The government has specified that all incoming travelers, including tourists, must present proof of an approved negative COVID-19 test to enter the country, in an effort to mitigate the risk of a second COVID-19 wave in country.

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