Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice-president of external and government affairs, told Tribune Business: “COVID-19 requires all of us to reset the way forward button. Notwithstanding, we will continue the BHTA agenda that we have started. In addition, additional focus will be to jump start the hospitality sector safely, and without compromising value for money and guest satisfaction.
“Top on our agenda will be ways to ensure hotels get tax relief and, at the same time, government benefits for incremental business. We will create an environment for increased cost competitive airlift, and improved airports throughout the islands of The Bahamas.
“We will also provide a forum for continued manpower development for the associates in our industry and work collaboratively with all stakeholders to make The Bahamas the preeminent tourism destination in the region again.”
Audrey Oswell, Atlantis president, recently voiced concern over whether The Bahamas has sufficient airlift to meet the demand created by the industry’s re-opening. Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, subsequently acknowledged these concerns.
As for the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s season, Mr Sands said: “Bookings for all hotels will be slow in the beginning, but we are encouraged by the interest for 2021.”
Mr Sands was named as the BHTA’s president at the Association’s 68th annual general meeting. He has held the post three times’ over the last three decades, starting in 1990, as well as 1995 and 2009.
Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, spoke to more than 100 tourism stakeholders who participated in the virtual meeting. He praised Carlton Russell for his leadership and partnership over the past several years.
Presenters from the Ministry of Tourism; The Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board (NPIPB); The Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board (BOIPB); The Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board (GBITB); The Association of Bahamas Marinas (ABM) and Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) gave a realistic yet determined picture about the Bahamian tourism industry and spoke to the strategies deployed to restart the sector.
The Prime Minister also provided a pre-recorded message of thanks, and spoke of undertakings such as Bahamas Clear and the upcoming Digital Immigration Card, which has been approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and director of Immigration.
Dr Hubert Minnis said this initiative would not only digitise the Immigration card, but inspire “a series of new business strategies” that will “transform the entire process” and “unleash customer propositions not ever possible before the arrival of digital technology”.
Published: December 15, 2020