Pleasure Yacht Arrivals Increase

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The Bahamas saw pleasure yacht arrivals increase by 11 per cent last year over 2008, with Bimini cornering the market, boasting 52 per cent of market share and increases of 21.8 per cent over the same period, according to Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA) Statistics.

The Ministry's senior director of research, Gary Young, said during the Marina Operators of the Bahamas' (MOB) boat and security workshop that boaters had an average spend per night of $153 per person.

"Most major islands showed negative trends while Bimini grew in 2008 and 2009," he said.

According to Mr Young, almost 50 per cent of those stopover boaters originated in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, and stayed an average of 10.2 nights compared to 6.8 in 2008.

He also pointed to an increase in clicks on Bimini-related items found on the Ministry's website, Bahamas.com.

The Bahamas Hotel Association's vice-president, Frank Comito, said much of the increased interest in Bimini as a boaters destination is due to its proximity to the US and the ease in which boaters move to and from the island. He added that the island has had some marketing exposure.

The MOB, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and other entities, is seeking to make yachting to the Bahamas easier, safer and more cost effective.

According to many MOB members, boat owners have often complained of the expensive cruising permit fees charged by the Bahamas government. However, others consider the fees too low.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who also spoke at the MOB workshop, said the Government might consider revamping the fees if the numbers made sense.

Statistics provided by the Ministry also revealed that many boaters often moored at one island and stayed there for the duration of their trip.

Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said his Ministry was working on a plan to entice yachters to cruise the islands of the Bahamas and discover the cultural and physical variances of each destination.

General Manager of vertical markets at the Ministry, Earl Miller, said Bahamas.com was being used as an effective tool to disseminate information on marinas across the country. It will eventually be a booking engine in the future for slip reservations.

He said the Bahamas was also set to welcome a cargo vessel that would bring pleasure yachts from as far as the west coast of the US to these shores. The ship carries as many as 45 boats per trip.

Source: The Tribune