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D’Aguilar hopeful tourism will rebound

After more than 100 employees were made redundant at Baha Mar, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that things will get better in the tourism industry saying that he believes the country will have a “robust Christmas” season.

“There are going to ebbs and flows in the hotel sector,” he said.

“At the same time as you’re having the downsizing at Baha Mar, I believe that they are about to open the SLS and the Rosewood, so you will see workers being called back to work there.”

Baha Mar resort announced on Monday that it has made the “difficult but necessary decision” to make more employees redundant.

The Nassau Guardian understands that a little over 100 employees were impacted by the move. The resort said all affected employees “will receive severance pay in accordance with the law and are eligible for rehire.”

D’Aguilar said yesterday that he is still optimistic and believes tourism numbers will improve throughout the year as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19. 

“So, obviously as we progress through the year, I am of the view that as more people get the vaccine and become emboldened to travel, more people will travel,” he said.

“And during the course of this year, things will begin to get better, culminating at the end of the year, where I think we should have a fairly robust Christmas, at least compared to the Christmas in 2020.

“There are, we have to understand, impediments to travel. There are no flights from Europe because they are in a constant state of locking down, opening up, locking down.

“Canada has banned all flights to the Caribbean through April 30. World leaders are recommending to their citizens that they not travel.

“To come to The Bahamas, you’ve got to get a PCR test that you have to upload to get a visa, get a rapid antigen test to return to the United States.

“Some people feel that that’s just too much. And so these are impediments that are in place. But we feel they are necessary in order to protect our people. That is why we have, by and large, a relatively low amount of COVID.

“…So until more and more of the world gets vaccinated and it becomes easier to travel, we will have these impediments.”

This is Baha Mar’s second redundancy exercise in less than a year.

In June, it announced that it reduced staff across Grand Hyatt, SLS, Rosewood, Melia, casino, and Baha Mar’s shared services.

Although the resort never officially provided a figure of how many of its employees were let go, previous reporting by this newspaper indicated Baha Mar planned to make 20 percent of its 6,000 staff redundant, which represented 1,200 employees.

Many remain furloughed.

On Monday, Baha Mar said so far 2,500 employees were “re-engaged”.

It also noted that an additional 700 employees have returned to work in preparation for the reopening of Baha Mar’s SLS and Rosewood hotels on Thursday.

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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