What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19?
Our commitment remains to the health and safety of our residents and the millions of people that visit The Islands of The Bahamas each year. The global tourism sector acted quickly to ensure the safety of tourists and locals alike and destinations have unfortunately already felt the weight that COVID-19 will have on their economy. The tourism industry in The Bahamas accounts for just over 40% of our GDP and 50% of employment. Since this industry makes up such a large percentage of Bahamian employment, we are doing what we can to support those affected by job loss.
Despite the devastating impact caused by Hurricane Dorian, we had a record 7.2 million international visitors last year. Due to the current travel restrictions, we are at zero. We, of course, want to welcome visitors back into The Bahamas when the time is right. In the meantime, we have brought a piece of The Bahamas to travelers’ homes through Zoom backgrounds where anyone can fly over the most beautiful turquoise waters in The Bahamas, hang with the flamingos or swim with the nurse sharks on Bahamas.com/WithLove. We have also shared a message ‘From The Bahamas With Love’ on The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation’s YouTube page featuring a special message from Tourism Ambassador Lenny Kravitz, to remind consumers we will be ready to welcome tourists to our shores again when it is safe to do so.
What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation?
We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and following guidance from the Bahamas Ministry of Health and other government agencies pertaining to the country’s Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19. We have been and will continue to take a day-by-day approach and extend and/or amend emergency orders as needed.
We will work alongside the appropriate health and government entities as well as collaborate with our tourism properties to determine a safe approach to re-entry for travelers that puts them and our residents at the most minimal risk as possible.
While we are not encouraging international travel into The Bahamas currently, those looking for inspiration for future travel can visit Bahamas.com/WithLove and use our Island Finder to plan their next trip.
How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now?
We understand that the extraordinary scale and actions required to contain COVID-19 will have an unprecedented impact on all levels of society in countries around the world. While it is hard to say and we do not want to speculate what the travel industry will look like in a year from now, I can say that The Bahamas will continue to offer an exceptional island escape to its visitors when it is safe to do so.
What have you learned from other difficult times in the past?
In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, the resilience of the Bahamian people shone through and will do the same again. We understand that the general public are looking for transparency during this difficult time and we are providing that with regular updates from the Ministry of Tourism representatives as well as directing people to the appropriate health and government organizations that are most equipped to respond to particular inquiries.
Safe–and entertained–at Home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime
Work traditionally begins at 9am, and inevitably I have a conference call either with my team or external partners at 10am. The advantage is that I can go outside and sit on a verandah to take some of my morning calls and enjoy a cup of coffee while observing the return of the wildlife to my neighborhood. This has been wonderful and has given me a new appreciation for nature.
I got to watch my first Netflix show two weekends ago after making a conscious decision to do so. I have since watched two series that I would never have watched, and which are complete extremes: Unorthodox and Caliphate. The former provided a view of an ultra-orthodox Jewish community, and the latter was a thriller that just draws you in. Given the intensity of these programs, I had to go back to HGTV to come back to reality! And most recently, Becoming. It was truly inspiring.
Reading is important to me and so I will always have a book at hand. It’s been good to catch up on some of the books that I have wanted to read: Educate by Tara Westover, Before We Were Yours and An American Marriage, most recently.
What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
It’s been very good just spending time together and making it work. There are three in my home at this time, and we all have carved out our space to work from. I have found myself getting excited about cooking, (It gives me a legitimate excuse to procrastinate from work) and so cooking and sharing a meal with the family has been priceless. Unfortunately, no one else is interested in my TV shows and so I have had to watch those alone. But we are all news buffs and will watch the news and discuss what’s happening in all the countries where we have a connection.
What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?
I take time to walk most days which has been really good. On many occasions, my husband has joined me on an evening walk, which has allowed for the opportunity to really pause and reflect.
Where are you dreaming of visiting once things are back to normal?
We are definitely considering traveling when this pandemic is over and it is safe to do so. Our first trip, however, will be to one of the other Islands of The Bahamas for a beautiful beach and laid-back break. It is difficult to decide which island in The Bahamas—Eleuthera, Exuma, Long Island—but I will take any at this time. They are all spectacularly beautiful and offer something unique. It is what keeps me motivated, and I just can’t wait! I have a new sense of appreciation for my country and the wonderful travel opportunities it provides.