Overnight travelers to The Bahamas will increase significantly by the 2021-2022 winter season, the leader of the territory’s hotel and tourism association said Monday, despite a recent international credit rating agency’s report predicting tourism activity in the country will take “several years” to return to pre-pandemic levels.
In a Nassau Tribune interview, Robert Sands, president of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and senior vice president at Bahamas mega-resort Baha Mar, said current bookings indicate Bahamas tourism will recover “much of its pre-pandemic volumes” by the Christmas and New Year’s period covering the first four months of 2022.
Sands predicted land-based, overnight visitor arrivals in The Bahamas would total “close to 85 percent” compared to pre-COVID levels by this winter. He cautioned however that COVID-19 protocols and the “impact COVID has on the travelling public” remain as potential deterrents to travel.
Sands’ assertions follow the release late last week of a Moody’s report that found The Bahamas’ tourism sector will not fully recover until 2024. “Despite the uptick in tourism activity in recent months, The Bahamas faces prospects of a slow economic recovery, and one that remains vulnerable to potential future variants of the coronavirus,” the report found.
“We expect tourist arrivals to take several years before returning to the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019,” the report continues. “We do not expect stopover [overnight] arrivals, the key measures of tourism activity as it relates to economic output and earnings, to return to 2019 levels until at least 2024, while tourists arriving by cruise ship will be even slower to recover.”
Sands meanwhile said a return to “100 percent of pre-COVID” land-based visitor arrivals is “very achievable” in 2022 if hotels, resorts and other tourism entities can ensure the health and safety of workers and visitors while avoiding measures that may deter potential visitors.
Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated The Bahamas as a “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High” destination, the highest risk for travelers.
Also in August, The Bahamas introduced updated health and safety protocols for arriving travelers while also tightening restrictions on social gatherings, including the establishment of a nightly curfew.
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