The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), in its just released Caribbean Quality Economic Bulletin, stated that The Bahamas’ economic outlook remains highly uncertain, noting recovery will depend on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic both in The Bahamas and source markets.
Pointing to the rapidly increasing cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks, the IDB stated that the marginal economic improvements during the later part of 2021 could lose momentum due to the Omicron variant.
“The economy of The Bahamas has shown mild signs of improvement during 2021 and real GDP is expected to grow two percent this year. However, the recent spike in COVID-19 cases due to Omicron variant could weaken activity in the first half of 2022 and jeopardize the slight recovery observed in the tourism and construction
sectors,” the report states.
“Although during this year (2021) tourist arrivals have been gradually increasing, figures are below pre-COVID levels. In the third quarter of 2021 the number of visitors was 532,206, representing a large improvement over the 34,221 visitors in the same period in 2020, but equivalent to only a third of arrivals in the third quarter of 2019. The way tourists reach the country has shifted, as now most visitors arrive by air, while before most did so by sea. The number of cruise lines that have restarted operations is growing, but the delayed restart coupled with restrictive vaccination requirements has hindered the sector’s recovery thus far.”
With approximately 50 percent of the eligible population vaccinated – more than 156,700 as of this week – the IDB noted that only through improved vaccination rates can the country be portrayed as a safe destination for continued growth in tourism.
“The winter season has also been successful. High vaccination rates as well as economic recovery in source markets such as the United States are having a positive impact on The Bahamas, while output in the construction sector was driven by post-hurricane reconstruction activity and foreign investment projects,” the report states.
Efforts toward increased vaccination numbers and a continued push for health and safety protocols, the IDB noted, will prove beneficial not only in economic terms, but also in keeping Bahamians healthier and safer.