Tourism Readiness Plan Underway

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Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee (TRRC) to establish a Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan for re-entry into the Tourism Market

The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism are working alongside public and private sector partners including The Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board (NPIPB), Paradise Island Tourism Development Association (PITDA), Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board (BOIPB), Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board (GBITB), Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), Nassau Cruise Ports, Association of Bahamas Marinas, Hutchison Ports Bahamas (Grand Bahama Airport Co., Freeport Harbour Co., and Freeport Container Port) and The Bahamas Ministry of Health (BMOH) to create and propose a “Bahamas Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan for Re-entry into the Tourism Market”.

This initiative has seen the engagement of a wide cross section of stakeholders; which is integral to the composition of a comprehensive plan which will incorporate feedback, acumen and insight gleaned from owners, operators, employees, government representatives from various businesses directly or indirectly linked to the tourism economy. Sectors represented include: Airlines (commercial/private), Points of Entry (Airports, FBOs, Cruise Ports, Marinas) and tourism touchpoints within the destination: Taxi, Tour, Hotels (small, mid-sized, large,) Vacation Home Rental sector (Airbnb), Retailers, Straw Market, Land and Sea-based Attractions, to name a few.

The purpose of the plan is to provide a road map for the Government, and tourism stakeholders, to use as a guide to ready themselves for the imminent re-opening of our internal and external borders to local and international travel; to re-enter the tourism market in a strategic manner which considers health and safety pivotal to the sustained restoration of the Bahamian tourism economy.

In addition the Plan aims to provide external markets; i.e. demand markets; travel industry partners; airlines, tour operators and on-sellers; and internal tourism stakeholders, owners and operators, employees with the confidence and understanding that The Bahamas is deploying an approved, comprehensive strategy, aligned with regional and local standards and best practices, to re-open the destination, in a safe and healthy manner. “Being visible, being accessible; opening our economy in a safe and healthy manner is key to our ability to recover economically as a tourism destination” states Carlton Russell, President of the BHTA.

Chair and Co-Chair of one “branch” of the TRRC, responsible for recommending “Demand Stimulation Strategies and Border and Point of Entry Best Practices”,  Vernice Walkine, President and CEO, NAD, and Joy Jibrilu, Director General of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, emphasize; “Having a plan in place is integral to our ability to retain the interest and engagement of our travel partners, and potential visitors. As a tourism dependent destination our ability to propel ourselves to “top of mind” amidst a cacophony of competitors; regional, and international; each vying for the same depleted demand market; is essential to the restoration of our tourism industry. Other regional tourism destinations are initiating their own tourism recovery plans; The Bahamas must be a forerunner in this effort”.

Stuart Bowe, Sr. VP & GM Hotel Operations, Atlantis, and Robert “Sandy” Sands SVP of Government & Community Relations, Baha Mar, are Chair and Co-Chair of the “Best Practices, Health and Safety Protocols for Internal Tourism Touchpoints” Committee. In addition to recommended best practices, the seasoned hoteliers highlight the need to include  viable “goalposts” for the opening of the tourism sector: “As varying tourism engines have been on  “idle”  since the closing of our borders due to the COVID threat; advance planning is necessary to allow external and internal industry partners the opportunity to plan for reopening their businesses, from an operational perspective, as well as a sales, marketing and promotion perspective. Also, the new norm will require significant operational changes, i.e. installing health and safety signage, equipment, training of employees on best practices, sanitization processes”.

The deployment of a Tourism Re-entry Plan which provides guidelines for health and safety protocols not only allows tourism businesses to deploy approved health and safety standards which will, as best as possible, keep employees and guests safe; it provides our target markets with a comfort level that The Bahamas is a safe and healthy destination. This is a baseline requirement for travel consideration.

The Plan is comprised of reports from many subcommittees from the broad range of tourism sector groups and is close to completion. It will be given to the government for it to provide support to public and private sector businesses, as the country looks toward reopening this critical economic sector. The BHTA and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism would like to thank the core committee members, group leaders and subcommittee members, which are comprised of in excess of 100 public and private sector tourism stakeholders, for their contribution to this important body of work. The level of engagement and intensity of interest aptly showcases our ability to band together to get The Bahamas back to the business of tourism, in a healthy, safe, and sustainable manner.