Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday that the government expects the Bahamian economy will rebound early next year with the reopening of the tourism industry and the ramping up of construction.
“We’re very optimistic that the future for The Bahamas remains bright, that the fundamentals of the economy are still strong, the demand for our destination is still strong,” he said.
“…So while it is certainly a challenge, we certainly anticipate that we’ll come out of the bottom of this okay.”
Turnquest’s comments came as The Bahamas moves into phase three of the reopening of the economy. In March, as COVID-19 cases began to increase in the country, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a number of strict measures, including a 24-hour curfew, closure of the borders and weekend lockdowns, to curb the spread of the virus.
Only essential businesses were allowed to operate for nearly two months.
The tourism sector was hard-hit even before The Bahamas confirmed its first case, as fear of the virus brought the industry to a halt worldwide. The government announced yesterday that it is planning for a soft reopening of the tourism industry to begin on June 15.
Minnis previously announced that international travel will resume on July 1.
“We anticipate that our number one industry, tourism, will begin to rebound by the end of this year and the beginning of next year,” Turnquest said.
“And that is in line with global predictions for the travel and leisure industry. With that coming back, that is going to help us to put a number of people back to work.
“In addition to that, we are confident that large-scale construction projects that have been on the board are going to kick off this year, particularly toward the latest part of this year and in the new year. And that will give us another boost of not only domestic activity, but also foreign direct investment.
“…All those things, along with our efforts to increase and deepen the small and medium-size enterprise sector, we believe are going to help us to lift this economy back to where it was.
“Of course we know that there are going to be changes in the industry. Some sectors and some entities in these sectors will not make it as a result of what is happening.
“…But we are going to do whatever we can to ensure that we stabilize and we support as many industries as we can, as we have been doing, to make it through this period.”