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A merry holiday season predicted for hoteliers

Projections of a merry weekend for most hotels throughout The Bahamas are being given by the Bahamas Hotel Association, with marginal growth expected for this Christmas season compared to the corresponding 2009 period.

According to the BHA’s Executive Vice-president Frank Comito, the general sentiment among local hoteliers is that they would either match or beat last year’s levels in terms of occupancy.

“We believe this holiday season will mirror what we’ve been seeing all year,”he toldGuardian Businessyesterday,”with overall marginal growth over last year, and with some hotels doing much better and faring the same as last year.”

The projection comes asair arrivals to the country improved for the first 10 months of the year, according to Tourism’s latest numbers for October, with almost 45,000 more visitors winging their way into The Bahamas when compared to the corresponding period in 2009. That translates into 4.1 percent growth in air arrivals from last year’s numbers.

The Bahamas also recorded well over four million in total visitors for the 10 month period.

Outgoing BHA President Robert’Sandy’Sands recently called the year”a mixed bag of revenue gains, higher operating costs, and global uncertainty,”even as most tourism indicators inched up in 2010.

“Indicators in general moved closer to our 2008 pre-recession benchmark,”he said while addressing members of the BHA at its 58th annual general meeting earlier this month.”Projections for the next year show continued marginal growth as we slowly pull out of one of the most difficult economic periods in decades.”

Despite the challenges, Sands called on BHA members to be optimistic about the future, pointing to”foundational steps which have been and are being undertaken,”that have led to an emerging interest in tourism investments in The Bahamas.

He said measures that were put in place in 2010 by the public and private sectors should steer the industry out of the doldrums quicker than many of the nation’s competitors. These include major airport infrastructure improvements well underway in Nassau and Abaco and the liberalization of the telecommunications industry, which should bring about improved services at lower costs in the coming years.

He also commented that”room rate integrity has largely been maintained throughout the recession, better positioning many hoteliers as they climb out of the recession and begin to see a return to profitability. Many hoteliers have learned in these lean years how to do more with less,”he indicated, thus creating more efficient and productive operations.

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