Tourism

“Don’t hinder tourism resurgence with higher energy costs”

• Industry can “hard to afford” a significant increase in BPL

• BHTA chief hopes fuel hedging remains….

• “Electricity became available for the first time in a long time”

NEIL HARTNELL

Business editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas tourism industry warned yesterday that it “cannot afford to go off the rails” in the post-COVID recovery due to rising electricity prices, which remain “key” to the sector’s global competitiveness.

Robert Sands, president of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), in an email response to Tribune Business inquiries, said any increase in the Bahamas’ electricity and light (BPL) bills could upset the “balance” that the country’s largest industry is constantly striving for. . to reach between the cost of a holiday and ensuring that visitors get “value for money”.

Reacting to Shevonne Cambridge, the newly appointed chief executive of the BPL, effectively confirming that electricity bills were about to rise, he called for the continuation of “some sort of fuel hedging” as the strategy presented by the former Minnis administration meant that “electricity was at affordable levels.” for the first time in a long time” over the past two years during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noting that factors such as “backlog” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will not affect the performance of the Bahamas tourism industry forever, and that price competitiveness against competing destinations will once again be critical to maintaining market share, Mr. Sands told this newspaper: “We are one hundred percent on the road to recovery.

“However, given what we have just been through and what may lie ahead, we cannot afford to be taken aback by factors such as the significant increase in the cost of electricity, which is already a huge cost to tourism stakeholders. BHTA continues to highlight the importance of providing “sustainable and affordable clean energy” to businesses in the Bahamas as a foundation for our ability to operate as a successful tourism destination.

“The tourism sector has historically faced challenges related to the cost of doing business in the Bahamas. The high cost of operating in the Bahamas is directly and inextricably linked to the price of a vacation at your destination. Post-pandemic, pent-up travel demand continues and will fuel the momentum of our economic recovery.”

However, Mr. Sands reiterated that it is “vital for us to understand” that many of the factors affecting the Bahamas’ post-tourist recovery are likely to be temporary. As people regain confidence in being able to travel long distances and COVID-related travel restrictions are lifted or eased, longstanding concerns about the Bahamas’ competitiveness will resurface.

“Unsatisfied demand will begin to weaken over time, [and] the key motivating factors that once dominated the face of COVID will play a lesser role in…

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