Meetings and incentive group planners may begin to solidify group bookings and plan inspection trips now that the Bahamas COVID-19 warning posted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been downgraded to a level two, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association President Robert Sands told Guardian Business yesterday, warning though that the level will need to be sustained or further improved.
The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions market, better know as MICE, is a large revenue earner for big hotels, but the CDC warning level serves as a hindrance to the niche sector, given that companies become liable for their participants’ safety while on such trips.
Sands and other industry executives have contended that doing everything possible to keep the CDC warning level down is critical for the success of the tourism industry.
“I am very happy that we are at a level two,” said Sands.
“I think The Bahamas has an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that we can get to a category one and I think the Bahamian people are to be congratulated the most for taking the pandemic seriously and helping us to get to this particular position.
“And when we’re in this sustained position of either category two and hopefully getting to category one, that tells the traveling public that we’re serious about tourism, that we’re open for business and that The Bahamas should be your first choice for booking, not only a leisure vacation but also for a possible business meeting or convention here in this destination.”
He added that the government’s move to shed some COVID-19 protocols acting as impediments to travel should also be commended.
Sands said the CDC’s travel warning improvement as well as the government’s continued re-evaluation of the country’s COVID-19 protocols will bolster the pent-up demand for travel to The Bahamas and keep occupancy at the encouraging levels hotels are now seeing. In addition, the MICE market should once again begin to move ahead with firmer bookings.
Some MICE planners who began looking at The Bahamas at the end of last year postponed bookings at the beginning of 2022 as the COVID-19 omicron variant caused infection numbers to shoot up, along with the CDC’s warning in response.
Sands said in order to a sustain a low CDC threat level, the country has to increase vaccination rates from the 40 percent range to 60 or 70 percent.
“This would be a challenge for us, but I think that’s a goal that we should strive for,” he said.