Early success not dependent on Atlantis and Baha Mar, notes Johnson

Government is not relying on the mega resorts on Nassau and Paradise Island to gauge the early economic success of the tourism sector, given that the vacation home rental market, second home owners and a robust yachting community could provide economic factors consistent with the Ministry of Finance’s prediction of a slow ramp-up in tourism in the final months of 2020, Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said yesterday.

Speaking at a virtual press conference where he and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest gave an update on the country’s fiscal affairs, Johnson said the Ministry of Finance has based its economic projections on a slow ramp-up in tourism when the country opens on October 15.

Baha Mar announced Tuesday that it will possibly remain closed during October and Atlantis noted in a statement yesterday that it is still evaluating its situation.

However, Johnson said the government is confident that its muted tourism recovery projection will likely be in line with what the reality could be by the end of the year. He said neither Baha Mar nor Atlantis are being depended on to present robust tourism receipts by the end of the year.

“Our tourism product certainly much less than before is reliant on these specific resorts [Atlantis and Baha Mar],” said Johnson.

“We have hundreds if not thousands of vacation home properties. We have a number of second home owners. We have a very active boating community, who, in a COVID-19 environment, would prefer to stay closer to home. So the tourism product is a lot more dynamic than it has been in the past and a lot less reliant on one or two properties to be able to to fuel it.”

Johnson said when the country reopened in July, visitors were generally affluent individuals looking to stay longer, who have their own boats and vessels and who are able to go into some of the family island communities. He contended that is what is likely to be seen when tourism reopens in earnest again.

Turnquest said during an address on the fiscal state of the country in the House of Assembly yesterday that “A failure to jump start tourism before the end of the year would likely result in a more troublesome fiscal scenario.”

“This is a very active, fluid situation and there’s always the possibility that there is sort of a third wave of COVID-19,” Johnson said. “There’s any number of scenarios that could present itself.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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