Resorts welcome guests, give bounce to tourism

VISITORS ARRIVE – Resorts welcomed the island’s first group of visitors to the island July 2, after three-plus months of closure, as a result of the worldwide pandemic, COVID-19. Pictured in insert is Tourism Manager for Grand Bahama Island Steven Johnson. (PHOTOS: SHAYNE STUBBS)

Two resorts in Grand Bahama welcomed the island’s first group of visitors to the island July 2, after three-plus months of closure, as a result of the worldwide pandemic, COVID-19. Thus, Pelican Bay and Island Seas will be doing their part to jump start the tourism industry on island.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis shutdown the country's borders, after the deadly virus claimed thousands of lives in countries around the world. 

However, after months of low virus positive cases, it was decided to open borders of The Bahamas fully on July 1.

As a result, the national flag carrier, Bahamasair, and Silver Air arrived Thursday (July 2) with a combined 70-plus passengers, who were greeted by excited tourism officials at the Fixed Based Operation (FBO) of the Grand Bahama International Airport.

Tourism Manager for Grand Bahama Island Steven Johnson, that it was a “great day” for GB.

“We are excited that international travel is commencing here on Grand Bahama. We had a long run with COVID-19 and now it is time to get back to work. But we have to make sure that people coming here are safe, and to make sure that we exercise all of the safety precautions here, in The Bahamas, to follow the safety rules of the health officials.

“This is good news for us. The hotels have been certified and ready to open, ready to accept visitors. We all have to do our part now, in order to make it better here in Grand Bahama, but this is an exciting day. We have been shut down for months, in and out of lockdowns, and, now we have visitors coming to our shores.  We are excited,” said Johnson. 

Pelican Bay Resort’s Manager Magnus Alnebeck expressed excitement about the reopening, and informed that employees of his establishment have participated in multiple training exercises to ensure safety measures are met.

Meanwhile, Johnson noted that Silver Air will be making daily flights into Grand Bahama.

“Silver, obviously, has about four gateways, Fort Lauderdale being the main one. We are excited because this is an avenue for bringing in people from Canada, connecting people from the United States, and various areas around. 

“Any time a flight comes into Grand Bahama we should be thankful. We are excited about tourism getting back to normal here. 

“Bahamasair is also coming in later on today. They had a slight delay due to some computer issues but we will be here for that flight when it arrives from Fort Lauderdale. Again, more airlift for Grand Bahama is what we need. We are just happy that all of the hotels have done all of the safety checks.

“We have trained vendors - from taxi cab drivers to tourism vendors - anyone in the tourism industry. Most people have been trained and we are doing additional training next week. We are doing training in West End, Holmes Rock and in Eight Mile Rock. 

“We have a lot of people in the tourism industry that are still not trained and so, we are taking the training to them. This is all in our strategy of the TRRC (Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee). It is a 150 paged plan, which is about everyone being certified. 

“You have to be certified in order to move these guests as a public service driver; you have to be certified obviously for the hotels and as a vendor, they all receive certificates that they have completed the training. We are really happy that we are open again for business,” Johnson concluded.

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