Both Chairman of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) Michael Scott and Chief Executive Officer of Kamalame Cay Michael King believe The Bahamas’ mega hotels will have a tough time operating in a world with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), explaining that the future of tourism lies with small boutique resorts.
“I think the days of the Baha Mars and the Atlantis hotels are done,” said Scott.
“I think for various reasons, the future model is going to be small boutique resorts with a real estate component to them, in many of our islands.”
King said he believes when people begin to travel once again, they will choose remote destinations and shy away from high-density places.
“This is going to present a major challenge for large resorts and I believe there will be a universal tendency for travelers to gravitate towards more remote, isolated destinations worldwide,” said King.
“Low-density resorts integrated into the Bahamian landscape are those I believe will have the highest chance of success.”
Both Scott and King were panelists on a webinar hosted by the University of The Bahamas and the TDC.
King added that this new reality will give the Family Islands a positive challenge.
Scott said Family Islands will have to “come into their own” as independent destinations separate from New Providence.
However, King said in order for small island resorts to meet this reality, they will need help from the government.
He lamented that hotels were exempted from some of the government’s incentive programs aimed at keeping businesses afloat during the pandemic.
King said survival for small hotels and resorts until the new travel season in November will be “impossible without some form of assistance”.
He added: “The whole sector has been plunged into this new world of financial instability and economic uncertainty, with revenue reduced to zero.
“For most of us in the tourism sector, the quest is not how will I survive, how will I thrive, but how will I survive just keeping the doors open until July 1st.”
King said The Bahamas is well-positioned to benefit from tourist arrivals when travel begins again in earnest.