‘We need more room capacity’

DPM says there is dire need for more hotel rooms

Hotel room capacity in the country has been “outstripped”, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper, who explained that government has had conversations with hoteliers about reopening their properties.

One of those conversations, he said, is being had with Baha Mar, which operates the closed-for-renovations Melia property.

The property closed during the COVID-19 pandemic; but in 2021, Baha Mar made the decision to take two years to renovate the property.

However, renovations have yet to begin, and the company said they plan to eventually reopen the hotel in a “thoughtful manner”.

The British Colonial closed earlier this year after it lost the Hilton brand.

It’s owners wasted no time in trying to find a new hotel operator for the property, and Cooper said those owners have a plan that they will “roll out shortly”.

Cooper, who made his remarks on the sidelines of a groundbreaking for Sawyer’s Fresh Market on Paradise Island, added that Club Med on San Salvador is set to reopen in October after shutting its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We see many of our properties that have been shuttered reopening,” said Cooper.

“The [British Colonial is] going to come back on stream. There’s conversations with Melia.

“We need the room capacity. We have outstripped our capacity.

“So, we’re bringing more airlift; the issue now is where are people going to stay. We’re looking forward to new product.”

According to Cooper, in May, the country saw visitor arrival numbers ahead of where they were pre-pandemic.

He also explained that tourism numbers for the fall are trending sharply upward.

On the cruise tourism front, Cooper said the country could finish the year with five million cruise arrivals.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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