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The Bahamas’ Cruise Line and COVID-19 Situation

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

COVID-19 appears to be giving cruise line operators with private island destinations in The Bahamas just what they’ve been looking for - an excuse to skip out on bringing their passengers into major Bahamian ports, bypassing them as they cruise to their private destinations.

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar yesterday during a press conference confirmed that cruise lines have indicated that they would prefer to ditch ports of call like Nassau because of COVID-19 concerns. Confirmed cases of the contagion in the capital numbered 1,667 as of Monday. Nassau’s population is around 266,000.

A move like this could prove disastrous for Bahamian businesses - particularly those in downtown Nassau, a major city centre hub, and further delay its planned revival.

And as the country clumsily grapples with the fall out brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded even more so for the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco because of last year’s Hurricane Dorian, there appears to be no immediate help or hope in sight for the country’s tourism industry or its economic woes altogether.

The Tourism Minister said he told cruise line operators that he can accept their cautions for a short period of time, but they will have to come back to population centres to start making an economic impact.

It is unclear when or even how the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism hopes to ensure that happens. It is also unclear at this time just how impactful the Tourism Minister’s plan to have hotels throughout the country resume their full operations for October 15th will be, given that health officials have repeatedly said COVID-19 and its effects will be around for some time yet and major cruise lines - whose passengers make up about 75% of visitor arrivals to The Bahamas – won’t be sailing again until at least November of this year.

A 20% slash to the Ministry’s budget, impacting how it markets the islands, may not make the situation any better.

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