5% Stopover Growth For Nassau

NASSAU/Paradise Island and Grand Bahama saw a 5 per cent increase in stopover visitor arrivals year-over-year based on preliminary data, the Minister of Tourism and Aviation said yesterday, with March showing a 10-13 per cent increase for both destinations.

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace told Tribune Business yesterday that those figures were early numbers and did not include the impact of travel to the Family Islands.

He said recently that the companion airfare deal being pushed by government and private sector entities in the tourism industry had produced as many as 96,000 room nights since its January 2010 start date.

President of the Bahamas Hotel Association, and vice-president of external affairs for Baha Mar, Robert Sands, said the Wyndham and Sheraton's occupancy numbers this year were owed to the companion airfare deal.

Mr Sands said the Wyndham itself had several "strong" weekends this month, and he expects to it with a satisfactory April occupancy.

"Easter fell in April this year, so you have to look at the month as a whole and there are still elements of strength for the rest of this month," he said. "I think there is a combination [driving occupancy]; the companion fly free programme is having an impact on occupancy levels, no question about that. And they (Wyndham) has been fortunate to attract one or two groups."

Mr Sands said the companion airfare promotion also allowed participating resorts to provide room rates packages that did not distress its hotel rates.

Last year, hotels bottomed out on their room rates in order to attract business as the global economic decline depressed stopover travel.

"The good thing about the programme is it allows hotels to keep hotel rates at respectable levels," said Mr Sands.

He added, though, that while some smaller, Bahamian-owned hotels and resorts may not be receiving the direct benefits of the promotion, there may be a "light at the end of the tunnel" for them as the fly free promotion takes off to the Family Islands.

Mr Sands said the BHA was working with management at Family Island hotels in order to prepare them to improve their guest engagement.

"We have pockets of excellent news and pockets of not so good news ,and where we don't have pockets of good news, the BHA is working with hotels - largely small Bahamian-owned hotels - trying to put in place a number of strategies to help them" said Mr Sands.

"Extending the companion fly free will help them, but we will offer administrative initiatives to properties so they can cost share in a number of ways and have the ability to promote their properties and get booking training."

Mr Sands said there was good new on the horizon for the tourism industry, and hotels in particular. However, he remains "cautiously optimistic".

Source: The Tribune
Last Updated on Friday, 23 April 2010 06:44