Foreign arrivals grew 17 percent in February

Foreign arrivals grew 17 percent in February
The Central Bank of The Bahamas logo.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Foreign arrivals grew by 17 percent for the month of February, according to the Central Bank.

The bank noted the tourism industry had recorded growth ahead of the COVID-19 tourism industry fall-out in its monthly economic and financial development report for March 2020.

The regulator underscored the increase in arrivals extended the 13.9 percent growth during the same period in the previous year. In the underlying developments, sea traffic gains (largely cruise visitors) accelerated to 23.6 percent, after a 12.1 percent rise the prior year.

The Central Bank further noted that air arrivals decreased by 3.1 percent in a reversal from the 19.7 percent expansion in 2019 that had captured the hotel capacity boost from Baha Mar.

The Central Bank also noted that based on the latest data from The Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA) and the Ministry of Tourism, pricing and occupancy trends among large surveyed resorts culminated in a marginal hotel room revenue growth of 1 percent during February.

“This reflected a 0.7 percent decrease in the average daily room rate (ADR) to $272.24, and a 1.8 percent growth in room night sales. However, the average hotel occupancy rate fell by 1.1 percentage points, to 76.5 percent.  For the year-to-date, room revenue declined by 1 percent as the ADR reduced by 1.1 percent to $266.71, and the average occupancy rate moved lower by 0.8 percentage points to 72.8 percent, despite a 1 percent rise in the number of room nights sold.”

Frank Comito, head of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) recently called on those international tour operators which have delayed paying hotels for services delivered to the operators’ clients as early as January to expedite reimbursements.

According to Comito, CEO and Director General of the CHTA, in a letter to major trade organizations representing the bulk of tour operators that do business with the Caribbean, said that nearly 70 percent of hotels report that they have not been receiving timely reimbursements from tour operators for services provided during the first quarter of 2020.

According to Comito, a number of hotels reported outstanding amounts in excess of $1 million.

Comito stated: “We have become alarmed in recent weeks to learn of the extent to which some of your member tour operators are withholding reimbursements to hotels for services which were rendered as early as January and into February and March.”

Comito noted that hotels had been advised to expect reimbursement to take an average of 60 additional days, and as long as 120 days, from certain tour operators who cited staff shortages, high demand, and reduced cash flow as primary reasons for delays.

However, he pointed out that such payments were made to tour operators months in advance by travelers and were to be held in trust for payment to hotels shortly after the delivery of the services.