After the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has subsided, The Bahamas’ tourism industry will likely have to contend with a fear of travel by people from the country’s largest source markets, and the social and economic fallout they will likely face, Minister of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA) Dionisio D’Aguilar told Guardian Business yesterday, adding that MOTA has ceased its advertising in the midst of the crisis.
“People will be afraid to travel…[they will be] uncertain about whether to go on vacation given the uncertainty of their employment prospects,” D’Aguilar said.
“There will be a lot of people displaced and put out of work by the shutdown. You have a lot of airlines that have furloughed planes and ceased operations that have to get back up and running again.”
According to D’Aguilar, The Bahamas has stopped advertising given that most of the world has stopped traveling because of the global spread of the new coronavirus.
“We have shut down everything…ain’t nobody talking about travel,” he said.
“Everyone is advising their citizens not to travel, not to go anywhere, so you have to wait for that process to work itself out.
“This is not a time to be marketing the country because nobody is contemplating travel. So, you have to save your resources for when you need to come back on stream.
“Obviously your core market is the United States, so you have to wait until they kind of work through this crisis.”
D’Aguilar said MOTA’s first re-engagement in travel will be when the cruise industry’s 30-day hiatus is over.
He said when the worst of the pandemic is over, then the country will have to get very creative with its advertising strategies “to get people to start to think about a vacation” again.
D’Aguilar said The Bahamas will have to play to its strengths, such as proximity to the United States and the low density of its population, given the fear of the spread of viruses.
“You will have to play to your strengths…consider a vacation close to home if anything goes awry,” he said.
“If you’re concerned about infections, these are destinations that are as safe as safe can be. But obviously you have to see what your record is before you sing that tune.”
D’Aguilar said The Bahamas’ “Still Rockin’” campaign will continue to be fresh even after the threat of the new coronavirus has passed.
However, he lamented, “It’s all very uncertain right now.”
“We don’t know how people will be feeling on the other side of this,” said D’Aguilar.