Tourism numbers are projected to be down nearly 10 percent following the passage of Hurricane Dorian, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.
“There has been a lot of negative public relations about The Bahamas being destroyed, and obviously people are concerned when booking their holidays that they’re going to come to a country that’s been destroyed and decimated,” he told reporters outside Cabinet.
“And even though we’ve been trying to get the message out that that is not the case, and only two islands have been impacted, we have definitely seen a fall-off in our bookings. If you look out through the end of the year, we are expecting just near a 10 percent decrease this year over last year.
“And that’s for two reasons: first of all, the negative public relations about The Bahamas, and secondly, as you can imagine, we don’t have Abaco and Grand Bahama in our inventory anymore, and so they represented about 12 percent of our stopover visitors last year, and so with them being out of commission, we are naturally going to see a decrease.
“And so, our decrease is about nine percent, as opposed to the full 12 percent, and so we’re a little encouraged by that. By early next year, we’re seeing a bit of rebound. So, that’s the nature of tourism. It’s very resilient, subject to a lot of shocks — hurricanes, travel advisories — but short-term memory is very short, and it bounces back, so we’re expecting that to happen.”
Hurricane Dorian swept over Abaco and Grand Bahama six weeks ago, leaving parts of both islands in ruins. The islands were the second and third largest tourism centers in the country.
D’Aguilar said the Ministry of Tourism is doing what it can to encourage people to visit The Bahamas.
“We’re very active out in the market getting the message out,” he said.
“Just last week, I spent four hours on television stations in the United States, just going from one city to another city in prime time slots in major cities getting the message out that The Bahamas is open for business and continue to book your holidays, and the best way to help The Bahamas is to visit The Bahamas given our dependency on tourism.”
He said such efforts have impacted the ministry’s spending, but he does not expect any significant impacts to its budget.
“Given the urgency of the situation and given the fact that we really wanted to get the message out there that we are open for business, we brought forward a bit of our spend in order to get that message out,” he said.