Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Dioniso Says Tourism Takes Better Care of Bahamians. Why Tourism Won’t Ever Go Away

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar is anticipating all major hotels to reopen by October 15.

He said the government is targetting the full operations of beaches across the country.

D’Aguilar said the government wants to ensure a sustainable opening as the reopening and closing has impacted the industry.

“That was too traumatic for the tourism sector and significantly impacted our relationship with our travel partners,” he said.

The government is eyeing a complete reopening of the industry by early November, D’Aguilar said.

Will the Bahamas ever do away with tourism?

The answer is no.

D’Aguilar said tourism is the only industry that has proven to rebound after hurricanes, pandemics, and global recessions.

The industry has exacerbated the growth of the economy and is the number one provider of foreign exchange and primary source revenue for the treasury of the Bahamas.

D’Aguilar said there is no other economic sector that can deliver with immediacy and magnitude, the foreign exchange, employment levels, and tax revenues. Many developing countries, including the Bahamas, rely on tax receipts from its tourism industries
to facilitate food and construction imports.

He argued that the economic potential is unparalleled as tourism is the worlds’ second-fastest-growing sector and the world’s largest employer of skilled and unskilled workers.

In fact, human capital development for the Bahamas–housing, education, health, infrastructure, and tax revenue is derived from the millions of tourists who visit the Bahama shores each year.

What about diversification?

Ever since the Bahamas tourism suffered a major hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, critics have argued that the Bahamas must look to diversify its economy, with less dependency on the sector. The Bahamas has seen a 56 percent fall-off in visitor arrivals during the first six months of the year – from a record 3.9 million arrivals in 2019 to 1.7 million in 2020.

D’Aguilar said this shows a misunderstanding of trade, markets, and how economies function.

Instead, D’Aguilar touts diversification within the industry.

He said it means the country has to incorporate more local content from manufacturing, culture and heritage, arts and entertainment, accommodations, restaurants, authentically Bahamian products, and transportation to build a dynamic market, and to ensure that every dollar spent by the visitor on those goods and services stays in the country and in the hands of Bahamians.

What are the challenges facing the Bahamas’ market?

D’Aguilar admits that challenges face the  Bahamas.

He said the country’s marketplace is more vulnerable than many in our region, and indeed around the world. He added that it is neither as robust nor as competitive as it could be, stating that it lacks diversity and has been starved of significant increases in new, locally owned businesses and market innovation for many years.

He acknowledged that the country can improve its tourism model to increase trade and economic opportunity.

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