The Bahamas government on Monday presented a “forward-looking tourism plan’ for the archipelago as it prepares to implement the third phase of a Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan on October 15.
Tourism and Aviation Minister, Dionisio D’Aguilar, in a national broadcast, announced additional details of the forward-looking recovery and reopening plan reiterating the country’s commitment to revitalizing the tourism industry while emphasizing that the health and wellbeing of citizens, residents and visitors remain paramount.
He said beginning October 15, The Bahamas will enter the third phase of the plan ahead of the busy holiday season, which will include the reopening of beaches and major hotels.
The authorities have noted that since 1950, tourism has played an integral role in the country’s economy, accounting for more than 50 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 60 per cent of national employment.
But they acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on global tourism and the Bahamas’ economy has felt the impact, particularly following 2019’s record-breaking tourism numbers, where the country welcomed 7.2 million visitors.
“The country’s in-depth Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan outlines a strategic, phased reopening strategy to ensure a comfort level that The Bahamas is a safe and healthy destination for both visitors and residents to enjoy.”
The government said that as part of the third phase, beaches and major hotels will reopen on all islands and D’Aguilar announced that all hotel guests must abide by a 14-day Vacation-In-Place (VIP), which will allow guests access to all amenities, including hotel spas, gyms, bars and more.
Additionally, the third phase will also allow for the reopening of attractions, excursions and tours on November 1.
D’Aguilar said that ahead of the reopening, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation is working with airline partners to secure direct airlift from key markets where the curve has been flattened.
“Additionally, the Ministry’s communication team is prepared to commence an agile marketing campaign, complete with authentic storytelling and aggressive PR and sales strategies, leaning into current travel trends, such as the preference for vacations closer to home, as well as options that afford seclusion and outdoor pursuits.”
The government said that following the third phase, the various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health will recommend an appropriate date to enter Phase 4, which pertains to the reopening of vendors, select attractions, casinos, cruises and ferries.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis Monday announced the relaxation of additional restrictions, including the resumption of in-store services for retail businesses on certain islands.
But casinos, bars, gyms and other high-risk businesses are still prohibited from operating and Minnis,, speaking from Grand Bahamas, said businesses may determine their operating hours between 5.00am to 10.00 pm (local time).
Restaurants, excluding those on New Providence, are permitted to offer indoor dining. New Providence restaurants are allowed to offer outdoor dining and take-out services.
Minnis said inter-island charters are now allowed. Additionally, inter-island commercial air travel may resume on September 9 and that COVID-19 test results are not required except for those traveling from New Providence.
The prime minister also advised that police will monitor construction sites to ensure construction workers are wearing masks since the construction industry has become a breeding ground for COVID-19 in the country.