Spring Arrivals Projected To Surpass 2010

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Spring visitor arrivals for The Bahamas are looking upwards, according to Minister of Tourism Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who noted that tourism numbers will surpass those recorded during the same period last year.

"We're up year over year, but we're nowhere near where we want to be," he told Guardian Business yesterday.  "But we see some very good growth in April, May and June already.

"So we believe we are going to get back to some degree of normalcy."

He said a series of meetings were recently held with Baha Mar and Atlantis officials to ensure new flights from South America on Copa Airlines arrive booked. It's important, said Vanderpool-Wallace, to make the route a successful one from the onset, given the South American and Central American markets could pose real opportunities for the country in growing overall arrival numbers.

Prime Minister Hubert recently announced that total visitor arrivals in 2010 rose by 13 percent to 5.2 million.  The high-value-added air component—which accounted for 25 percent of the total—registered a modest rise of 3.4 percent to 1.3 million, he said, while sea arrivals—75 percent of total visitors—rose by a robust 16.5 percent to a level of 4 million.  That was aided by a combination of increased port calls from major cruise lines and higher capacity ships.

Vanderpool-Wallace stressed the importance of creating a demand for the destination, so that visitors will always want to visit the country.

His statement comes as the Ministry of Tourism is about to reveal partial results of visitor satisfaction levels ascertained from exit surveys to the general public on a regular basis.  This was revealed in a previous interview with Vanderpool-Wallace, who said that for a long time there has been great reluctance to share such information with the public.  He added that the measure should go a long way in helping Bahamians collectively understand and address some of the issues that are being raised by visitors.

"Many people are shocked to find that the level of satisfaction is quite high," the minister told Guardian Business recently. 

"But at the same time, there are some specific things that are so easy to fix, but also so pernicious that we think it's very important that people know what they are and help us get those solved."

Neither the official date nor the format of the information that the ministry will begin publishing have been decided yet, according to Vanderpool-Wallace.  However, he added that a new summary report of survey results is expected to be out shortly, and the ministry may begin by sharing those results with the public.  He also said that while both the good and bad would be disclosed, it will not include information that would be detrimental to the destination from a competitive perspective.

The Nassau Guardian