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Central bank governor: No meaningful economic uptick until 2022

Global vaccinations will not boost traveler confidence until the second half of 2021, Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) Governor John Rolle said yesterday, contending that The Bahamas’ economic strengthening and tourism recovery would not begin a meaningful uptick until 2022.

Rolle, who made the remarks during the CBOB’s quarterly update, said projections were pushed back given that there was no material restart to tourism in The Bahamas into the end of 2020 and no outlook for a great improvement in the first half of 2021.

“The virtual standstill of international travel in 2020 underscores the severe negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Bahamian economy,” Rolle said.

“These effects will also weigh heavily on the economy in 2021, because the global vaccination drive is not expected to meaningfully boost travel confidence until the second half of the year.

“For The Bahamas, this limits the degree of economic strengthening that would be observed in 2021. The most significant upside potential for tourism recovery remains getting the virus under control in North America.”

Rolle added that the almost $2 trillion fiscal stimulus being proposed by the Biden administration could have a positive impact on The Bahamas’ recovery, if it becomes reality.

According to Rolle, it is estimated that the Bahamian economy contracted by 16 percent in 2020 and that tourism arrivals last year only reached one quarter of where they were in 2019.

“Countries that are wrestling with outbreaks will need several weeks to get the outbreaks under control and certainly need time to bring the numbers down… fortunately, that is happening as vaccination has begun,” said Rolle.

“Generally speaking, we’re not in a material period yet to rebound, although it is good that there is some business that is moving about in the tourism sector.

“For all intents and purposes, our forecasts and analysis put us beyond the first quarter of the year and reasonably beyond April. When you think about that, those first four months of the year being gone, you’re not yet in a rebound state.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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