Soft Hotel Bookings For The Holidays

The Bahamas Hotel Association's president yesterday said room bookings will be softer year-over-year this festive season, as revenue per available room hovers around a negative 18.9 per cent.

Robert Sands, who is also Baha Mar's vice-president of administration and external affairs, said destination arrivals still seem to be down 15 to 20 per cent year-over-year, with no substantial data to forecast the first quarter 2010.

According to Mr Sands, the booking window for Bahamian hotels still hovers near one week, and the extent of Christmas and New Years bookings will not be known until closer to the day.

"Next year will be anybody's guess," he said. "We're beginning to see a slight pick up for the new year period, but Christmas still remains a bit soft so far for this year.

"We're hoping the weather [in the US versus the Bahamas], coupled with whatever confidence is coming back, will help that particular period."

Statistics revealed at the opening of HVS's first Caribbean office, showed the Bahamas RevPAR average lower than the aggregate Caribbean average of 22 per cent, and only marginally higher than the US average of 18.2 per cent.

Mr Sands said the travellers have been taking advantage of more value-added vacations this year, opting to cruise to destinations over hotel stays.

Cruise visitor arrivals were up by some 19 per cent earlier in the year, and according to Mr Sands that has somewhat kept tourism sector revenues afloat.

"People have shifted to value driven, price driven vacations, and the cruising sector is up to the destination, which will minimise the impact of tourist earnings to the destination," he said.

Mr Sands added that Bahamian hotels are continuing to offer value-added rates and packages, and contends that new airlift coming on stream at the end of this year and early next year may assist in minimising the impact of declining tourist earnings.

"We are more concerned about bodies in beds and airlift capacity," he said.

Source: The Tribune