Bahamians Own 30% of Hotel Room Inventory

Friday, 04 December 2009 00:00 News Editor

The president of the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) said yesterday that Bahamians own 30 per cent of this country's aggregate room inventory in the form of small hotels, contrary to popular belief.

Robert Sands, who is also Baha Mar's vice-president of external affairs, said small hotels, which are defined as 74 or fewer rooms, represent 4,957 of the 15,552 aggregate rooms in the Bahamas.

According to Mr Sands, more than 80 per cent of the small hotels in the Bahamas are owned by Bahamians.

"This has become a national development initiative of great significance," he said. "We knew that there were special small properties throughout our islands. We didn't know the extent to which owners and operators were throughout the country."

Mr Sands said the BHA, along with the Bahamas Sustainable Tourism Entrepreneurial Management & Marketing (STEMM) Project and the Inter-American Development Bank, have been undertaking an initiative to develop a sustainability plan for small hotels in the Bahamas, and have themselves learned lessons about the operations of the properties in the pursuit of the information.

"It became apparent to us that we were not just undertaking a tourism development project, but a national development project," he said.

Mr Sands added that during the project, the extent of the challenges faced by small hotels across the Bahamas became apparent.

"We took a deliberate approach to get to know you," said Mr Sands.

Since the BHA began the task of discovering and assisting small hotels, it has "catalogued and digested" vast findings. And they have sought to develop a plan to assist those hotels in being successful.

According to Mr Sands, there are 281 licensed hotels in the Bahamas, 241 of which are small hotels.

"It's a significant sector," he said. "Too often we hear that Bahamians do not own a piece of the tourism pie, but it's time to speak out and say that we do own a slice of that pie."

Mr Sands said the BHA, the Ministry of Tourism and the various promotions boards are in their fourth year of a development project for small hotels.

"We are trying to organise and engage the small hotels," he said. "We created a support programme based on what you've told us and what we need."

Source: The Tribune