A government official in The Bahamas said the country is encouraging cruise lines to return as soon as sailing is permitted again.
According to The Tribune, Bahamas minister of tourism and aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said cruise lines would be welcomed back despite the coronavirus threats due to the economic benefits they bring by transporting travelers to the country.
The Bahamas have implemented coronavirus-related health and safety protocols that would carry over to the arriving vessels, but the desperate nature of the nation’s struggling businesses has forced officials to prepare for the reopening of cruise travel to private islands where the viral pandemic can be better controlled.
“Obviously when they start cruising again they will not want to come to the population centers,” D’Aguilar said. “They will want to go to their private islands because they can control the environment. As minister of tourism I’m going to encourage them to come to the population centers because that’s where they will make the most economic impact.”
“At the outset they will want to check their protocols and see how they work, but we’re wonderfully positioned for the rebound of the cruise industry because we’re so close and they can so short cruises,” D’Aguilar continued. “The shorter you make the cruise, the less the risk. You can do a three-day cruise involving Nassau and your private island.”
D’Aguilar said that while cruise passengers only accounted for 11 percent of tourism spending before the coronavirus outbreak began, officials believe the sector’s shutdown cost the nation an estimated $540 million.
The comments from the tourism minister come after the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced its ocean-going cruise line members have agreed to voluntarily suspend U.S. cruise operations until at least October 31.