‘Off the chart year’ were it not for Hurricane Dorian
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas recorded another ‘record year’ for tourism arrivals in 2019, according to Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, who noted that it would have been an ‘off the chart year’ had it not been for Hurricane Dorian.
D’Aguilar was speaking on the sidelines of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Marketplace conference at Baha Mar.
He said: “When you look at it 2019 was an exceptional year. I think when the final numbers come in it will be another record year. It will be a record for cruise arrivals and a record for stop over arrivals.
“A number of individuals islands within the archipelago will have record arrivals. Were it not for Hurricane Dorian it would have been an off the chart year.”
Tourism director general Joy Jibrilu noted that between January and November 2019 there were a total of 6,535,789 air and sea arrivals compared to 5,951,607 for the same period in 2018, representing a 9.8 percent increase.
She also noted that forward bookings for the next three months are behind 5.5 percent and that seat capacity is expected to increase by 2.5 percent over the next three months.
D’Aguilar said: “With the passage of Hurricane Dorian, September, October and November were months that saw substantial decreases in stop over arrivals. That was obviously because we lost Grand Bahama and Abaco but in Christmas there was certainly a bounce back.
“I think that a lot of people had made reservations and those who were interested in coming went to other family islands. If they were interested in going to Abaco they ended up going to Eleuthera or Exuma. Reports from those islands were that they had never seen numbers like they saw in Christmas of 2019.
“I’m very excited and proud. I think the country did extremely well. We have a great product and great people.”
D’Aguilar however acknowledged that there remains work to be done.
“I think there is a lot work still to be done,” he continued.
“There are hiccups here and there that we need to smooth out but by-in large we have a great product and it’s been recognizer iced world wide. The record arrivals is the result.
“The most important component of your visitor arrivals are the stop over visitors. They spend twenty times more than your cruise visitor. When your stop over arrivals grow that is so much more impactful on our economy, employment and money getting into the hands of the average Bahamian.”
D’Aguilar said: “Cruise passengers while they spend considerably less because they are only here for three to five hours, those numbers are growing double digits. With the opening of Coco Cay, with the opening of Ocean Cay The Bahamas is the leading cruise destination in the Caribbean.”
“The private islands are obviously bringing more and more cruise passengers to the destination but our challenge to the Bahamian entrepreneur is how do we leverage this incredible opportunity into money in our pockets and economic impact.
“Ten thousand cruise passengers arrive in Nassau every single day of the year. Our challenge show do we monetize that and ensure that those visitors that come here are significantly economically impacting our people and eating employment opportunities for them.”