The country’s tourism industry performed “exceptionally well” during the first quarter of 2018, with stopovers increasing by a whopping 18 per cent, and air arrivals at their highest on record.
“This places The Bahamas in third place in the region, after Belize and the Cayman Islands which recorded growth levels of 23 per cent and 20 per cent respectively,” Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said.
“It should be noted that, with The Bahamas receiving at least 1.4 million stopover visitors per annum, this growth is tremendous when compared with that of our Caribbean neighbours.”
D’Aguilar said air arrivals support the revenue-producing stopover segment of the industry, producing rooms’ revenue, which, from the large hotels alone, was up 39 per cent at the end of the first quarter.
Air arrivals had been boosted primarily by improved airlift seat capacity and room inventory in New Providence and increased overall demand for Bahamas vacations over the peak Easter holiday period.
“In addition, average daily rates increased by 11 per cent over the same period and the industry witnessed a 25 per cent uptick in room nights sold. By my estimate, this translates into an additional $90-100 million in economic impact – all in the first quarter of this year,” he said.
“This is indeed good news for the Bahamian economy. By all accounts, the collective marketing efforts of the Ministry and the industry, and robust growth in the Family Islands, coupled with the addition of 2,300 rooms at Baha Mar with increased employment to 4,000 persons at that property, have all served to put this country on a more solid economic footing.”
With respect to the country’s cruise sector, D’Aguilar said while The Bahamas experienced a marginal loss in growth of its cruise business in the first quarter of this year, “we experienced overall growth last year in the volume of cruise passengers when the region experienced a 3.7 per cent decline.”
“However, the conundrum remains of how do we work to improve domestic production to facilitate increased cruise visitor spend? All but one of the cruise agreements have expired and the government does not intend to continue the cruise incentive model that it has operated in the past.
“With all that said, Bahamas tourism is indeed seeing healthy gains and not just in New Providence but in most of our tourism destinations. In fact, except for Grand Bahama, Inagua, Cat Island and Exuma, eight of our major tourism destinations have all seen double-digit stopover increases in the first quarter of 2018,” he added.
D’Aguilar said while this growth represents a positive turn of events, it remains to be seen whether the current tourism model and emerging market trends can consistently deliver on rates of growth that have eluded the industry year-on-year for the past twenty years.
“It must also be recognized and appreciated that our ‘good news,’ while considerably influenced by our own efforts at home, has been jump-started by a significantly improved United States (US) economy,” he said.
This article was written by MATT MAURA, Bahamas Information Services (BIS)