2.4 million visitors in the first five months of 2022

Tourist arrivals grew to 2.43 million between January and April this year, the most recent data from the Ministry of Tourism revealed.

Visitors that arrived by sea made up the majority of tourists so far this year, accounting for 1.8 million passengers; while stopover (air) arrivals amounted to just under 600,000 passengers.

The month of May alone saw more than half a million visitors, accounting for the highest visitor arrivals in a single month since the full reopening of the tourism sector late last year.

“Official data provided by the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) revealed that total visitor arrivals by first port of entry expanded to 502,583 in May, from 93,876 during the same period in 2021. Contributing to this outturn, air traffic advanced to 126,820, from 81,168 in the prior year, representing 79.9 percent of air arrivals recorded in 2019. In addition, sea traffic moved higher to 375,763, from just 12,708 visitors in the previous year, when cruise activity was paused,” The Central Bank of The Bahamas revealed in its Monthly Economic and Financial Developments report for the month of June, released yesterday.

It continued, “On a year-to-date basis, total arrivals recovered to 2,435,934 visitors, vis-à-vis 278,561 in the comparative 2021 period, when an 83.6 percent contraction was measured. Supporting this outturn, the air segment rebounded to 593,716 passengers, from a 29.8 percent reduction in the prior year, capturing uptrends in all major markets. Likewise, sea arrivals regained 1,842,218 visitors, following a 97.5 percent decline in 2021.”

June also saw strong momentum, with the Nassau Airport Development 

Company Limited (NAD) revealing that total departures – net of domestic passengers – rebounded to 118,844 in June, from 84,559 in the corresponding month of 2021.

“Specifically, US departures rose to 105,339 from 81,906 in the previous year, while non-US departures amounted to 13,505, from just 2,653 in the preceding year. During the first half of the year, total outbound traffic more than doubled to 631,484 from 259,239 passengers a year earlier; a switch from the 30.4 percent contraction in the same period last year,” the report said.

“Underpinning this outturn, US departures advanced to 542,011 visitors, a turnaround from the 20.1 percent reduction in the prior year. Likewise, non-US departures extended to 89,473, a reversal from the 82.7 percent decline in 2021.”

The Bahamas has continued to experience a steady increase in visitor arrivals month over month since last November, when the Davis administration relaxed COVID-19 travel protocols.

Tourism stakeholders have attributed the robust return of the tourism sector to the pent-up demand for travel in The Bahamas’ source market, the United States.

Central Bank Governor John Rolle said this return to pre-pandemic levels of tourism has significantly driven the economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic lockdowns.

“In this regard, there is room for additional gains, as a result of pent-up demand for travel previously unmet, particularly during the first year of the pandemic. The tourism turnaround has featured both rebounded visitor volumes and steady to improved average pricing for stopover accommodations. Moreover, performance in the vacation rental market remains strong, with significant benefits accruing to the Family Islands. The momentum in tourism is being sustained, despite other challenges in the international economic environment, which are expected to discourage some travel,” he said.

“Such headwinds are expected to reduce, but not eliminate the total economic gains being experienced, through at least the end of 2023. By this point, the major part of the recovery from COVID-19 is likely to be completed, leaving other external factors to become more dominant in influencing travel sector trends. At present, headwinds include elevated labor shortages that are holding back the airline industry’s ability to swiftly restore seating capacity; fuel costs that are making travel less affordable for some consumers; and increasing central bank interest rates, which, while intended to fight off inflation, would also make travel less affordable for some households.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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