More than 8,000 people registered for training in the Ministry of Tourism’s Readiness and Recovery (TRRC) Plan as the country prepares to reopen the tourism industry, according to Ministry of Tourism Director General Joy Jibrilu.
Jibrilu, while appearing as a guest on the Our News talk show “On the Record” with host Jerome Sawyer, said the number of people applying was more than the ministry anticipated.
“The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, as a result of the TRRC plan, we knew that to have processes, protocols in place wasn’t enough – you needed to do training,” she said.
“We needed to train the sector on how do you then execute this plan, these proposals? What does social distancing really mean? What does health and safety protocols really mean? And so, we started training [last] week.
“We expected at every single session, two [or] three hundred people. Over 8,000 Bahamians have registered. We had to close down registration for people who we never expected to say, ‘I would like to be trained in what this new protocol, this new normal will look like.’
“I say that to say that Bahamians do understand and they have grasped that it will not be business as usual, and they want to be equipped and armed.”
The tourism industry has effectively been shut down since mid-March, as international travel slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as The Bahamas ultimately completely closed its borders in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.
With the industry being the primary economy, thousands of workers in tourism and hospitality have been unemployed for months as a result.
The Ministry of Tourism’s phased reopening of the industry is set to begin today, as per its TRRC plan which outlines the new protocols that must be followed for receiving tourists, whether at airports, seaports, hotels, etc.
The full reopening of the industry, and the country’s borders, is set for July 1.
Jibrilu noted that the ministry is still aiming for that date despite concerns that COVID-19 cases in the United States – where the majority of tourists come from – could increase following mass protests of the killing of George Floyd.
“I think we continue to work towards July 1, putting in place whatever mechanisms that you can, to the best of your ability within the circumstances that exist today, to mitigate against an increase or a surge or a second wave, whichever way you want to call it, of COVID-19,” she said.