Sands: Over 60% of Baha Mar guests now fully vaccinated

It’s one of the indicators that tourism in The Bahamas is on a rebound, notes senior VP

At least 60 percent of Baha Mar’s guests are fully vaccinated, the resort’s Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs Robert Sands said yesterday.

In April, the government dropped COVID-19 testing requirements for fully vaccinated travelers entering the country.

Sands said the resort has noticed a trend over the last two to three weeks since the policy was implemented.

“We had a program in place for testing every guest upon arrival. That testing requirement is only for persons who are not fully vaccinated. We are seeing upwards of 60 to 70 percent of our arriving guests are now fully vaccinated coming to this particular resort,” he told reporters yesterday.

“So the message is that we certainly want to encourage Bahamians themselves to become fully vaccinated, because once we can get to herd immunity, the country, the world can get back to business as usual.”

Tourism and government officials have said they are banking on the continued success of the vaccine rollout in the United States – the country’s top source market – to see a strong return to tourism in The Bahamas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 40 percent, or more than 130 million people in the US population are fully vaccinated.

Sands said without being overly zealous, the industry is optimistic about bookings for the upcoming summer travel season.

“Let us take one step at a time. The summer is already in terms of numbers looking better than the winter, so we anticipate that this momentum will continue barring any unknown, unseen setbacks. So we are very optimistic. Another critical part of our business is that we are seeing the demand for group business also coming back,” he said.

“You would know that British Airways landed in The Bahamas on Monday after being away since March of last year. That’s a very good sign because it means that the gateway to Europe is open again and certainly travel to The UK from The Bahamas is open again. All of these are indicators that The Bahamas’ tourism is on a rebound. The Family Islands have been doing fantastically well with the support of domestic tourism and certainly the fact that The Bahamas has always been a lure for boaters, private aviation and sun lust. All of those things together are contributing to a much improved and growing tourism sector.”

The most recent data from the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) shows that there were 45,995 US-based travelers that departed the country’s main gateway. Sands said while numbers appear to be trending upwards month over month, there still lies a bit of uncertainty on bookings over the coming months.

“I think we have to look at it as part of a process. Every week on week The Bahamas has seen incremental growth in business, but more importantly the demand for The Bahamas has been increasing exponentially in the last number of months and that is a very encouraging sign,” he said.

“I think there are three reasons for that, the first is that there is significant pent up demand for a sun destination, secondly – notwithstanding some of our own pitfalls – we have demonstrated that we are operating in a safe environment and protocols are certainly in place. Thirdly, our source markets are proving that they want to leave the United States or wherever they are and travel and the new initiative of home porting is creating some additional demand for The Bahamas as well.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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