Nassau's Cabbage Beach

Recent shark attacks on American tourists, including a fatal June incident, will lead Bahamas excursion operators to adopt “transformative measures,” said Dionisio D’Aguilar, the territory’s tourism minister, in local press reports this week.

In June, an American woman died after being bitten by sharks in waters near the Bahamas’ Rose Island. That was followed in July by a shark attack on an American man in waters off Abaco.

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In a Nassau Guardian interview, D’Aguilar said he expected Bahamas visitors to be “a lot more discerning” regarding local excursion providers and marine tour providers will transform [themselves] based on what has transpired.”

Said D’Aguilar, “Because we have had so few shark attacks over the last hundred years, many companies did not even take that into consideration in terms of developing their safety protocols.”

He said the attacks’ impact on travel to the territory was “very hard for one to discuss” considering the most recent resulted in a fatality but noted “we have 6.6 million foreign visitors come to our country and there are going to be accidents, and there are going to be freaks of nature, which I consider this shark attack to be.”

D’Aguilar said Ministry of Tourism officials are “in discussions” with the Bahamas’ Ministry of Marine resources and Ministry of Transport to address ways to “mitigate” the shark attacks.

The Bahamas is in the midst of an impressive 2019 tourist season, with strong first-half arrivals and forward bookings for international arrivals from March through May averaging nine percent higher compared with the same period last year, according to Ministry of Tourism officials.