Atlantis resort will not reopen until November, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar confirmed yesterday.
The resort announced last week that it was once again putting off its July 31 reopening due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in its source market, the United States, but did not indicate at the time when it planned to reopen.
D’Aguilar said the resort has indicated to him that the reopening would be “a period slightly before Thanksgiving”.
“I think they caveat that by saying, ‘look we’ll gauge the situation to see how it’s going and we’ll make a decision’. If it’s to be before that time they’ll certainly make it. They indicated that within 10 to 14 days they can get that hotel up and running as the situation develops,” he told reporters after yesterday’s morning session of the House of Assembly.
“You know Baha Mar indicated the first of October. But I think they’ll end up moving in sync, whatever they do they’ll probably end up moving in sync because when you do that it makes sense to bring the airlift back. When you build a scale I think the airlines kind of all have to move in tandem.”
Thanksgiving is typically a busy period for tourist arrivals, with on average 90,000 visitors traveling through Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) during the week of that holiday.
Atlantis had previously intended to reopen on July 15 for the first time since the resort closed its doors in March because of the novel coronavirus.
Last week, Atlantis President and Managing Director Audrey Oswell said the decision to extend the closure was made considering the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in its source market and the resort’s position to prioritize the health and safety of its team, guests and the community.
Atlantis is the single largest private employer in The Bahamas, with in excess of 5,000 employees.
“Well clearly they’re not opening until November, so that means that their staff will continue to be furloughed until they are ready to open,” D’Aguilar said when asked about the resort’s staff.
“In their conversations with me, the number one reason they gave for not opening now is just because of how unsettled it is in the United States. There are just so many cases out of so many of their core markets, so it’s very hard to go into Florida now and say come to The Bahamas on vacation when you have COVID-19 ramping up.
“So our number one market is Florida, second is New York and third is Texas. The solution to our problem is the number of cases in the United States coming under control. Until they get a handle on that, that’s going to negatively impact us and our ability to manage it… not only in terms of flights to and from, it’s very hard to market a destination in a pandemic.”
With tourism practically at a standstill, D’Aguilar said the government’s first objective is to get the current situation under control.
“When we go back to opening up to international travel, obviously now we’re a bit further up the learning curve, so we know what the issues are and we will put in place the necessary protocols to ensure that we don’t resurge. You know you’re always constantly battling in this position, in the position of a politician,” he said.