Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) President Darrin Woods said yesterday he was shocked and floored by the decision made by Club Med Columbus Isle on San Salvador to delay its reopening to December 2021.
While Guardian Business reported yesterday that the property intended to reopen on December 15, based on information on the resort’s website, Associative Vice President of Quinn PR – the firm which represents Club Med – confirmed in an email to this newspaper that the decision was just recently made to further extend its reopening.
Woods said the union was sent a letter from one of Club Med’s regional directors following high level meetings in France on Monday, during which
executives determined market conditions for travel and poor health infrastructure on San Salvador made it unfeasible to reopen at this time.
“You would be aware that originally they had said to us that they were opening December 12. They would have been the only resort that would have given us a fixed date for their reopening and out of the conversation came the decision that they would push their reopening to December 2021. Of course, that was a shock to us, we were floored because just to consider any further extension of closures would have a devastating effect on the employees in the industry,” he said.
“They cited the very extremely limited health facility infrastructure and they put in brackets small clinic. They also said it relates to the reduction in airlift as a result of COVID-19. You know the European market, where they get all of their guests from just about, 90 percent of their guests come from that market… Based on what they said in the letter and a short conversation, they were not comfortable enough in terms of the safety of the residents of the island, the staff, the guests and also any providers who provide service to the club and therefore they took what they determined as a painful decision to push this back.”
Club Med Columbus Isle employs roughly 180 residents and is considered the lifeline of the San Salvador economy.
“Right off the top we saw this as a very serious blow to the employees from there, because Club Med on the island of San Salvador is a major employer for that island,” Woods said.
“You find in most instances you have a minimum of two persons out of the household who works at the club… The main source of revenue for the persons on that island is the Club Med resort.”
The delayed opening, along with those announced by other resorts throughout the country, including Sandals Royal Caribbean, which won’t open until January 2021, as well as Baha Mar and Atlantis, which have yet to set reopening dates, leaves the industry in limbo.
“There is a provision in the industrial agreement for the employees to make a personal decision as it relates to their future in this whole scheme of things,” he said.
“We do have a meeting with a shop steward, a conversation that we’re going to have. What we’re getting from the workers in general is they really cannot go any further with the furlough and this uncertainty of when the industry is going to open.”
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar announced last week that all major hotels throughout The Bahamas would be permitted to reopen fully on October 15.