While it may be some time before excursions and tours resume on a large scale, the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) has secured critical and difficult-to-obtain insurance for the sector.
Recent tragedies – like the fatal explosion of a Four C’s Adventures boat in waters off Exuma in 2018, for example – have highlighted the importance of a properly regulated and insured excursions industry.
SBDC Executive Director Davinia Grant said it took a collaborative effort, with the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association and Creative Nassau, and about a year to broker a deal that would safeguard the industry.
“Together we were able to work with one of our insurance partners, Tristar (Insurance Agents and Brokers) to secure, finally, international access to what I’m going to call a sort of group liability insurance plan. So it’s specifically for excursions. We’ve been talking about it for a little over a year. It’s been very difficult to achieve this with local providers, but we have a local broker who went out and found it,” Grant said.
“So, SBDC will be the ombudsman in this program and from what I understand you’re going to be able to access discounts on your liability insurance of 30 to 50 percent. Very soon you will see information coming out from the SBDC on this. But it’s something again preparing for post-COVID-19, having less expensive insurance, having the appropriate level of insurance, doing that type of preparation now so that when you emerge you become higher on the list of some of the other highway opportunities from hotels and cruise ships at that period of time.”
Grant was addressing participants of a Ministry of Tourism cruise and maritime webinar yesterday, during which she encouraged tour and excursion operators to use the time that their businesses are closed to shore up their offerings.
“You may think that, seeing that a lot of the delivery of your service is face-to-face, that technology might not be something you need to focus on. I really would like to encourage everybody to please think twice about ignoring technology at this point in time,” she said.
Tour and excursion operators, like most businesses, were shut down after the government announced measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 in March.
Their resumption was planned for the end of this month, when the government expected the tourism industry to fully reopen.
Things changed when the prime minister closed the country’s borders to international commercial flights amid skyrocketing COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks.
Tourism attractions, excursions and tours were allowed to resume operations on all Family Islands, beginning July 6.