2011 Q1 To Bring Incremental Growth For Hotels

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One to two percent growth is projected for Bahamas hotel occupancy levels during the first quarter of 2011, leaving the industry still far off pre-recession highs.

"I would say we are still about maybe 20 25% behind," Robert Sands, outgoing Bahamas Hotel Association president told Guardian Business on his last day in that post Friday.

"We’ve made ground on maybe 75 percent, but we’re still not back to the pre-2008 pancy levels, Sands said that rates were expect ed to move up by two to three per centage points for the first quarter.

Despite the sluggish economic recovery in the United States, Sands said there were signs of some growth there to support the increase in occupancy and room rates.

"I think there is an expectation of how you sell your business and your mix of business that will help you to achieve that result, and our ability to show even this type of movement is predicated certainly on how the economic activity is taking place in our major market, which is the US."

The first quarter cuts across the industry’s peak season, which starts in mid-February and runs through Easter to the end of April, according to Sands.

January is comparatively slow. The projections for the quarter therefore do not paint the full pic ture of how the industry’s peak season will fare.

"Now we are not happy with the level of growth for the first quater of this year as a sector, but certainly the good news is that its not showing a decline," Sands said.

The tourism industry in The Bahamas itself reached a land mark in 2010, seeing over 5 mil lion visitors in December, though much of that growth was from the cruise industry.

"We would certainly like to see the growth ... heavily weighted on the stopover side rather than the cruise visitor side, but all of those are positive," the BHA executive said.  

"The fact that you do have the aggregate amount of tourists coming to this destina tion, whether by cruise or stopover is a positive and augers well for the future of the Bahamas as a tourism destination."

The Nassau Guardian
January 4, 2011