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D’Aguilar: Rebound depends on what’s happening in Florida

As long as Florida’s cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, The Bahamas is in a disadvantageous position in terms of seeing its tourism industry rebound in the near term, Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.

The majority of the country’s foreign visitors enter through Florida cruise ports and airports. Up to yesterday, Florida had more than 573,000 cases of COVID-19.

And with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the leading voice of the global cruise industry, recently announcing another extension of voluntary sailing suspensions – this time through to at least October 31, 2020 – D’Aguilar said there’s no telling when tourism will return to previous levels.

“It really is a function of cruise companies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coming to some sort of agreement on how they can safely operate. I think it doesn’t help that Florida is in the throes of a growth in positive cases, so that is I’m sure in some way impeding the ability for that industry to kick back off again,” he said.

“You know, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, they’re the three busiest cruise ports in the world.”

The country welcomed approximately 6,000 visitors into the country between July 1, when the borders finally reopened to international commercial flights following a four-month closure, and August 4, when the prime minister implemented new travel restrictions for visitors and residents entering the country after a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Since then, tourism has been at a virtual standstill, with negligible visitor arrival numbers.

Asked whether The Bahamas will realistically see a rebound in the near term, D’Aguilar said, “I think it’s going to be a result of what’s happening in Florida.

“Florida is the number one source of our visitors from the United States. We get 82 percent of our visitors through there. I think everybody just has to wait and see; there’s a lot of stuff going on.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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