Tourism Growth Continues

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International arrivals to The Bahamas are up 10.2 percent year to date, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The arrivals growth trend began last October.

Strong economies in the United States and Canada, loss of rooms in the Caribbean due to storm damage from the last hurricane season and the opening of Baha Mar all contribute to the growth. There has been a 29.6 percent increase in arrivals from Canada through July.

The Ministry of Tourism expects higher arrivals numbers for the rest of the year, with bookings up 6.7 percent in August through October and up 10 percent for November and December.

“The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation restarted robust marketing and communications efforts in North America, telling The Bahamas travel story to consumers by bringing travel journalists and digital influencers to the country, and using strategic content and digital amplification to reach travel decision makers,” it said in a release on Sunday.

“The ministry is already underway with the marketing program for 2018-2019 and anticipates continued business growth supported by this work.”

With tourism being our number one industry, there is hope that good times are here again in The Bahamas. The economy is projected to grow by 2.5 percent this year, and 2.25 percent in 2019.

“Lynden Pindling International Airport has reported historic arrival numbers for the country’s premier airport facility. Browse Nassau hotels on Trip Advisor for this coming weekend and you may see that most of the hotels are projected to sell out soon and we are seeing very strong occupancy rates. These outcomes are validation of the sales, marketing and communications work we have been doing,” said Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar.

A booming tourism business in 2018 could help offset any slowdown to the economy caused by the increase in value-added tax (VAT) as of July 1 this year.

The closure of the Grand Lucayan in Grand Bahama since the fall of 2016 means that island is not benefitting as fully as it should from a good year in tourism. The government plans to buy the hotel, and apparently flip it, taking it out of the hands of Hutchison Whampoa, the current owner. A fire-sale is then likely if a buyer could be found.

Grand Bahama’s fall-off has made the Family Islands, as a combined unit, the second largest air arrivals component in Bahamian tourism. Last year 285,398 visitors came in planes to these islands – the highest recorded total. Boutique hotels and homes available via online marketplaces such as Airbnb and HomeAway are driving visitors to these islands.

Tourism is overwhelmingly the main industry in the country. This year our stopover segment is growing too, whereas in recent years it’s just been the cruise business.

A good year in tourism means more money circulating around the economy. Hopefully we are at the beginning of a sustained period of growth. The decade after the financial crisis was tough. Bahamians are ready for opportunity and some prosperity.

The Nassau Guardian
August 21, 2018