Americans hoping to cruise out of or to the Bahamas in the coming months weren’t the only ones disturbed when the Centers for Disease Control this week advised against any and all travel to the island nation.
Bahamian businesses which rely on tourism in general and the cruise industry in particular fear that if the proverbial ship isn’t soon righted, the economic impact could be devastating.
“This Is a Wake-Up Call”
Reacting to the CDC’s advisory against travel to the region, the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s president Robert Sands told Tribune Business, “This is a wake-up call” which needs to be seen as “a major warning.”
While the CDC’s advisory does not actually prevent Americans from traveling to the Bahamas, the island nation is concerned that it could nonetheless have a negative impact on tourism. ”
Bad news impacts travel,” Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, told the paper. “We certainly don’t want this to get any worse.”
How Will Cruisers React?
With only about six weeks between now and when Royal Caribbean International plans to begin sailings out of Nassau, several questions loom large on the horizon. The biggest: Will the desire to cruise outweigh fears would-be passengers have regarding the possibility of contracting and/or spreading the virus?
Although Royal Caribbean is requiring that all Adventure of the Seas guests be fully vaccinated before boarding the ship, the CDC’s warning does not see being inoculated as a passport to travel.
In fact, the advisory reads that “even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.”
Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that while a majority of adult Americans have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, the same cannot be said of Bahamian residents.
As a result, the country is having to rely not on vaccinations, but the far more fallible safety protocols which D’Aguilar admits are failing because what he dubbed “COVID-fatigue” has set in.
“We’re tired and exhausted in observing these health protocols,” he said. “We’re tired and exhausted with observing social distancing and are probably getting relaxed.”
However, he reminded Bahamians, “This is not behind us. We don’t have sufficient vaccines in place to vaccinate all of us, so we have to observe the protocols and limit community spread.”
Added Sands, “We cannot allow apathy of COVID-19 fatigue to jeopardize all that we have accomplished, the sacrifices made by so many. Hope is on the horizon. We need to continue to be vigilant in our efforts to combat this virus.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, various political and social groups continue applying pressure to the CDC in the hope the agency will allow ships to begin sailing from U.S. ports this summer. But in recent weeks, opposition voices have begun urging the CDC to stay the course by leaving the current Conditional Sailing Order — which is set to expire in November — in place.