Arrivals Expected To Rise During Peak Season

Tourism arrival numbers will be up in March and April 2010 due to the country's free companion airfare promotion, the director-general of tourism told Tribune Business yesterday, while the Bahamas Celebration's inaugural cruise voyage to Grand Bahama will sail at capacity next month.

Vernice Walkine said tourism seems to "clearly" be rebounding, and the Ministry of Tourism is seeking to help it along by extending the free companion airfare deal past its March 3, 2010, deadline for bookings.

According to Ms Walkine, due to increased airlift and the arrival of the Bahamas Celebration to Freeport, Grand Bahama could be seeing a turn around in its tourist arrivals as well. At the same time, Spring Break groups have taken advantage of new airlift to New Providence.

"The whole reason we would have negotiated incremental airlift is so we can bring more people from more places," she said. "Grand Bahama is going to have the added benefit of Bahamas Celebration."

Several Spring Break travel groups have expressed their gratitude that there are more airlift options than previous years.

"There is a lot of airlift for the first time into Freeport, and instead of just booking four night packages with the cruise line, we have seen an increase in seven night bookings," StudentCity's destination manager for Grand Bahama and Midwest sales manager, Wade Lindquist, told Tribune Business recently.

StudentCity and GradCity, both popular online sites for Spring Break bookings to the Bahamas, say their arrivals could be up 2 to 3 per cent over last year.

Ms Walkine said even Sandals' newly-opened property at Emerald Bay in Exuma was projecting high visitor numbers for the next two months. The property is still in its soft opening phase.

While the industry produces a quarterly report on tourism numbers, this year's first report is expected to show an increase in arrivals compared to figures polled for the same period last year.

"We're projecting a very strong performance," said Ms Walkine.

Source: The Tribune