#Nassau, June 26, 2018 – Bahamas – Tourism officials plan to take even greater advantage of the new/added opportunities in the regional and global tourism industry.
Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar said in spite of the threats, the current economic climate “does present” significant opportunities for Bahamas Tourism as the industry’s global rate of growth continues to outpace all other sectors of the world economy, and is now the most important productive economic sector in the region, accounting for 25% of GDP.
“In addition, our largest market to the north, the United States of America (USA), is experiencing robust GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth and consumer spending, and, the lowest levels of unemployment in over a decade is making disposable income for travel available to most Americans.”
Minister D’Aguilar said the USA, which has traditionally led the way in tourism visitor arrivals, is also witnessing a decline in inbound travel.
“The question is: ‘Can we capitalize on attracting some of those visitors who are looking to travel elsewhere?’”
The Tourism and Aviation Minister said the Cruise Sector, which is booming with double-digit annual growth, and full occupancies on all Caribbean-bound vessels, is another significant opportunity for Bahamas Tourism. The Caribbean region currently owns global market share “of this lucrative sector.” More than 90 new, state-of-the-art cruise ships are under construction this year and next, in an attempt “to meet the insatiable demand for cruise travel.”
The Bahamas “dominates” in the Florida/Caribbean short-itinerary segment, with 4.8 million cruise passenger visits last year (2017), holding through the First Quarter of 2018, “although we can still do much more and better with improvements to the visitor experience at the Port of Nassau.”
Mr. D’Aguilar said the Ministries of Transport & Local Government and Tourism & Aviation are “working assiduously” at finding the best solution to modernize Prince George Wharf and the surrounding area, and to completely transform the cruise arrivals experience.
“We are extremely pleased with our progress thus far and I am sure that we will be speaking more on this topic, certainly by the mid-year budget.”
Minister D’Aguilar said adequate airlift and efficient route development are among the most important drivers of business to destinations like The Bahamas. He said his ministry’s strategies in this area are focused on both the growth of seat capacity in alignment with growing room inventory, and the scheduling of lift into Family Island destinations that will enable convenient connections on international flights to and from New Providence.
“I am happy to report that currently we have adequate capacity of seats to our destination to handle our inventory and that the uptick in demand has led to a number of our airline partners announcing additional flights to Bahamas destinations beginning in the fourth quarter of this year. It is, however, crucial to the survival of our Island economies that we position the Lynden Pindling International Airport as a hub that is supported by domestic carriers that can provide expedient and efficient service to the Family Islands.”
Minister D’Aguilar said the Government has secured “on the books” an additional $300 million dollars in new and capital expansion hotel projects since May 2017.
“It should be noted that The Bahamas has finite capacity in both seat and branded room inventory and must seek to maximize revenues through development of the domestic hotel industry and sales of local products and services.
“Our focus at the Ministry of Tourism will be on the delivery of local products that will grow our domestic economy and improve the visitor experience throughout our archipelago,” Mr. D’Aguilar said.
“We need, however, more of both foreign branded and local content — particularly in Grand Bahama and our Family Islands, in high quality/high value investments with low footprint in hotels, restaurants and attractions and to further stimulate the development of handicraft, tour and retail products – all of which are investments that will greatly assist in strengthening the linkages between our tourism sectors and across the broader economy to reduce leakages and boost revenue.”
Mr. D’Aguilar said: “In the first of such initiatives, we have received Cabinet approval to wind down the operations of the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas and establish in its stead, the Tourism Development Corporation. This action will enable us to diversify and enhance our local tourism product and increase visitor spending within the local economy, and is in line with the approach taken by all our regional competitors.
“My technical team, in conjunction with the Ministry of Legal Affairs, is currently formulating draft legislation that will establish the Tourism Development Corporation as a statutory body under the portfolio of the Minister with responsibility for Tourism, and will oversee and inform the future of the affairs of the Hotel Corporation,” Minister D’Aguilar added.
By: Matt Maura (BIS)