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Improvement in air arrivals

Air arrivals to the country improved for the first 10 months of the year, with almost 45,000 more visitors winging their way into The Bahamas when compared to the corresponding period in 2009.

It translates into a 4.1 percent growthin air arrivals from last year’s numbers, according to Tourism’s latest numbers for October.

The Bahamas recorded well over four million in total visitors for the 10 months, with air arrivals to the country up to 1,093,684 from the 1,048,763 seen during the same period in 2009.

The jump in air arrivals came despite a continuing decline for Grand Bahama, which saw a drop in that category to the tune of seven percent, compared to the year-earlier period. For the month of October alone, air arrivals declined by 18.7 percent.

Grand Bahama, however, recorded the largest jump in total arrivals-up by some 41 percent year-to-date. The jump was largely the result of a 55 percent increase in visitors coming in by cruise ship.

In that area, New Providence saw a 10.8 percent improvement for the ten month period, compared to the 2009 period.

Nassau did record the loss of a major cruise ship, when the Bahamas Celebration cruise line rerouted to Grand Bahama earlier in the year. It’s a factor that may have helped with the 35 percent growth in cruise arrivals to that island in October.

The Family Islands category grew in both monthly numbers and year-to-date numbers. Air arrivals were up by 36 percent for the month of October and 13.5 percent for the year-to-date period, while sea arrivals jumped by 37 percent for themonthand 15 percent for the period. The increases translated to 14.9 percent more passengers traveling to the Family Islands during those 10 months of 2010, compared to the year before.

The Bahamas has crossed the five million mark for visitor arrivals in 2010. That number was up almost 15 percent over 2009, according to Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, even as he warned that the tourism industry is”not out of the woods yet.”

“We expect by the end of this year that we will be considerably beyond the number we had the first time around,”said Vanderpool-Wallace in an earlierGuardianinterview.”Most of that growth has come in the cruise sector as opposed to stopover visitors.

“We all know and always remember that when we focus on tourism as an economic development tool that we want those high spending stopover visitors,”he said.

He added that the public/private sector sponsored companion airfare promotion was a huge driver of the increase in stopover visitors this year.

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