Load shedding ‘definitely impacting tourism’

The ongoing crisis at Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) and the near four-hour long load shedding plaguing New Providence on a daily basis is “definitely having an impact” on the country’s tourism product, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said.

In a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian, the tourism minister said he does not believe the vast majority of “our foreign visitors” are being affected by the load shedding.

“There are going to be foreign visitors that come to the country that have a bad experience by loss in power supply,” D’Aguilar said.

“I think that most people are staying in a hotel. Most of the hotels have backup power. Most of the restaurants have backup power.

“So, I think that the vast majority of our foreign visitors don’t experience outages, certainly not while visiting Nassau.”

The minister said visitors staying in Airbnb rentals are the most likely group of tourists to be impacted.

“You know, if your power goes off for three or four hours and you’re on vacation and you’re staying in an Airbnb, yes that’s going to change your mind,” he said.

Asked if he believes the outages will impact tourism numbers, D’Aguilar said, “As with any crisis, as with any emergency, it will last for a while and then it will mitigate. Those passengers who came here and were affected by it will always remember it so it’ll be harder to bring them back.

“So, that is definitely having an impact on our tourism product and we can’t get away from it.”

Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has been carrying out daily load shedding exercises since May in order to meet the high demand for electricity.

Earlier this month, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) President Carlton Russell said he is worried that the hours of frequent load shedding will discourage visitors from returning to The Bahamas.

“When you go on vacation, you don’t go on vacation expecting to be disrupted, to have a power disruption,” Russell said.

“I mean I’ve heard guests say, ‘You know what? We’re back to Third World.’

“We need to find a resolution to this vexing issue.”

D’Aguilar said he empathizes with the affected public.

He noted that BPL has three generators down and is facing a “myriad of things that have gone wrong”.

“We want it fixed today,” D’Aguilar said.

“We want it fixed now. We don’t want people to be suffering. So, it’s a vexing problem but certainly when we get our new installed capacity online by December 15, then we will have sufficient supply to ensure that loss of power and load shedding diminishes but, you know, I can’t tell the Bahamian people to wait until December 15.”

BPL officials have been unable to guarantee when load shedding will end.

BPL CEO Whitney Heastie has said BPL needs 250 MW of generation in order to meet the summer demand.

However, it is currently running on 210 MW, including 105 MW of rental generation.

Heastie said the 40-MW shortfall has led to load shedding across New Providence.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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