Johnson: Economic fallout worse than initially projected

Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said yesterday that the economic fallout in The Bahamas as a result of COVID-19 has been worse than the government initially projected.

“Our presumption was that stopover visitors would fall by 80 percent,” he said yesterday on Guardian Radio’s “The Revolution” with Juan McCartney.

“As the hotels shut down and as the travel is constrained, that number will probably be higher.

“We still have Airbnb and small boutique hotels that are still open. But, even that, I think, will start to dissipate over the next couple of weeks. And we’re going to go down to probably 95 to 98 percent reduction in travel.

“[A]nd if the airlines stop traveling, then, of course, that goes to zero.

“So, this is higher than we anticipated in our early projections.”

In the past few days, several major resorts have put their employees on unpaid leave or reduced salaries.

Atlantis Paradise Island, which has a staff count of more than 7,000, advised workers on Saturday that they will be temporarily laid off for four weeks. It is unclear how many of those workers are being impacted.

Baha Mar on West Bay Street announced in a letter to staff on the same day, that the property will close on March 25 at 3 p.m., until further notice.

Melia Nassau Beach will also close on the same date until further notice. The Baha Mar and Melia layoff exercises impact 6,500 workers, The Nassau Guardian understands.

A similar announcement was made by Sandals, which has a property on Cable Beach and another on Exuma.

All Sandals resorts will be closed from March 30 to May 15, 2020. Beaches properties in the region are also closing.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented broad travel restrictions.

Last week, the U.S. State Department cautioned residents against all international travel.

The measures have quickly and heavily impacted the global tourism industry. With The Bahamas reliant on tourism, the economic fallout is expected to be drastic.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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