Sea Arrivals Up But Air Arrivals Down

Visitor air arrivals during the month of September declined by 12.8 percent throughout The Bahamas, with New Providence's tourism decline improving slightly from the month before.

According to the Ministry of Tourism's latest data for the month, although arrivals to the country grew by 5.5 percent or around 150k visitors, there was 143 fewer air arrivals to the destination than the year ago period. That latter category acts as a true indicator on the performance of this nation's number one industry: Tourism.

Arrivals by sea, however, have continued to grow in the absence of a larger air contribution - that number up by 15 percent from September 2008.

All told, arrivals for New Providence went up by 7.4 percent over the year-ago period. That's a boost that came courtesy of a near 19.2 percent cruise passenger increase over 2008, although air arrivals to New Providence are down by 8.2 percent.

The decline was worse in Grand Bahama, however, with air arrivals down by 27 percent in that struggling economy. In total, just over 1,000 less people traveled to the nation's second city in September than compared to the 2008 period.

As was the case in New Providence, a boost in sea arrivals - to the tune of a near 12 percent increase — helped temper the overall arrival numbers in that destination.

The Family Islands were also similarly affected, seeing air arrivals decline by 23 percent ever as sea arrivals grew by 10.7 percent in that month. In total, the Family Islands saw an overall 4.4percent boost in visitor arrival numbers in comparison to the same period in 2008.

For most islands in The Bahamas, excluding Grand Bahama, increases were noted in both the air and total category in September compared to August. The boost comes as the government moves to lower the cost of air travel to the country through a mixture of subsidies as well as tax and fee reductions to stakeholders in the airline industry.

It's still unknown how much is being spent in this effort. Recently the government paid millions of dollars in departure tax rebates to cruise lines as a result of incentive contracts to bring visitors to the country.

In Grand Bahama, a partnership between the Grand Bahama Airport Company, Freeport Flight Services, the MOT and the Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board is expected to lead to an annual increase of 39,520 seats to the island as of November.

In the Family Islands, an addition 65,520 seats are expected to come online while 293,320 seats are expected to come online in Nassau, totaling 383,280 seats.

Source: The Nassau Guardian