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D’Aguilar: We have some opening dates in mind for tourism

While the government has not given any official indication as to when it will lift travel restrictions and reopen the economy, it appears some local hotels and resorts are preparing to reopen their operations by July.

Speaking to the matter, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said the government has an idea for when it wants to get the main economic

engine running again, but now is too early to say.

“So, we‘ve got some dates in mind, but I would prefer not to put them in the public domain yet. It’s a function of how we’re perceived to be doing on the ground from a health perspective, so we’re working towards a reopening and just waiting for the green light from the Ministry of Health that we’re good to go,” he said.

“Obviously, that’s going to be balanced with economic considerations; those are very pressing. People are looking to be re-engaged and get back to work, so, these are all the difficult decisions in this current environment.”

On Baha Mar’s Grand Hyatt booking page, the hotel states that it will be accepting room reservations for stays from July 1, 2020 and beyond. Similarly, Rosewood Baha Mar’s booking page has special offers listed as valid beginning July 1, 2020.

Sandals Resorts International has also revealed it is eyeing July 1 for the reopening of its Sandals Royal Bahamian resort.

“Our initial indication is people want to travel but you can’t negate the fact that unemployment in the United States is in excess of 30 million. They are very much going through the throes of opening their economy and they are trying to navigate that process. They are a little more open than other jurisdictions and so we have to come to grips with that, because 82 percent of our foreign visitors come from the United States. So, if we are going to rebound, we have to rebound with Americans. So, we have to get comfortable with the way they are addressing this whole COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“I’m confident that if there’s a country that’s going to rebound, it’s The Bahamas, because we are wonderfully positioned next to the United States. They just have to get their economy back on track and that will of course reflect positively here in The Bahamas.”

Tourism came to a screeching halt in March, when the prime minister closed borders and non-essential businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, schools and most businesses have remained closed since then, resulting in more than 25,000 Bahamians and residents being laid off.

“We have all of the industry partners meeting and strategizing on how we are going to open, given these new COVID-19 conditions. It’s very inclusive, everybody is participating. Looking at the airports, looking at how you go from the airports to the hotel, what’s the process going to be when you go into the hotel? What are the requirements for foreign visitors coming into the country? Looking at other destinations to see when they’re opening and when we want to open, taking into consideration local concerns,” D’Aguilar said.

“So, it’s a very robust, very time-consuming conversation that is about preparing our country to reopen, getting foreign currency coming back in, getting foreign visitors coming back into the country to get people employed. So, that’s what we are focused on right now.”

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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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