Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes yesterday expressed optimism about the country’s employment levels in the near future, explaining that several hotel properties have informed him of plans to reopen within the coming months.
“I am very optimistic about the employment situation in The Bahamas, especially the touristic sector,” Foulkes said.
The minister’s optimism came a day after Atlantis informed employees that several of them will be placed on furlough again as the resort continues to experience low occupancy numbers.
However, he said that the resort informed him that its staffing levels on property remain the same, despite sending 200 people home.
“The employment level at Atlantis remains the same,” he said.
“Atlantis has informed me that at the Royal Towers they have furloughed approximately 200 employees, but they have re-engaged approximately 200 employees at the Cove. So, in terms of the employment levels, there is no change.”
According to Foulkes, other hotel properties have informed him of plans to bring staff members back on in the next month or two as well.
He called it a good sign that there is some sort of rebound.
“We got notification from Sandals that their hotel in Exuma will be opening at the end of February and that the hotel here in Nassau will be opening at the end of March,” Foulkes said.
“That is very good news for almost a thousand employees of Sandals. We also got notification that Baha Mar will be opening their other two hotels — the Rosewood and SLS at the beginning of March. So, Baha Mar would be completely open. That is extremely good news.”
Baha Mar reopened on December 17, bringing 1,800 associates back to work.
Atlantis, Paradise Island reopened December 10, bringing 2,500 back to work.
While explaining to employees the reasoning for placing some of them back on furlough on Monday, Atlantis President Audrey Oswell expressed hope that the resort would be able to bring many of them back on for the busy spring break period.
Foulkes said that was something explained to him as well.
“I am also advised by Atlantis as well that the spring break, depending on which university begins around the end of February and goes for anywhere from three to four weeks, that they’re optimistic that they’re going to be able to reopen Royal Towers and re-engage those 200 employees by the end of February,” he said.
In a press statement last week, Sandals Executive Chairman Andrew Stewart said the company has been working closely with the Bahamian government to reopen both its Exuma and New Providence resorts as quickly as possible.
“We have heard from our customers all over the world that they can’t wait to get back to The Bahamas,” Stewart said.
“This demand echoes resilience as we see booking levels continue to increase day by day. We are confident in our product in The Bahamas and our unwavering commitment to selling the destination will continue to be the cornerstone of our sales and marketing strategy.”