Central Bank reports spike in tourism
Visitor performance in the first half of 2011 experienced an upturn according to the latest Central Bank report, with total arrivals increasing by 14.8 percent up to April. The latest figures were found in the Central Bank’s Monthly Economic Financial Developments (MEFD) June report, which also further revealed the uptick in air and sea travel.
“In April, total visitor arrivals firmed by 14.8 percent, buoyed by a 2.8 percent hike in air arrivals — the first monthly increase for the year — and steady gains in sea visitors of 19.2 percent,” the report stated.
“All of the major destinations recorded improvements, with total arrivals to New Providence up by 6.1 percent and double digit gains in both Grand Bahama and the Family Islands, of 16.1 percent and 29.8 percent, respectively.”
The first half visitor performance also translated into increased hotel revenues for local properties, with Frank Comito, the Executive Vice President of the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA), saying the 5.8 percent growth in room rates could be attributed to the busier travel period and various tourism initiatives.
“For the first half of the year, we’ve continued to show marginal improvement in occupancy and slightly better improvement in room rates,” Comito told Guardian Business. “A late easter, a stronger spring break business, continued improvement in group business and the Fly-Free and other promotional campaigns all contributed to marginal increases.”
Comito’s comments come after various hotels in Nassau and Paradise Island collectively posted the highest occupancy levels since 2008, recording an 80.1 percent rate in the first quarter of 2011 according to BHA President Stuart Bowe.
Occupancy levels experienced a small growth of 0.2 percent to 61.1 percent in the second quarter of this year, with the average daily room rate rising 5.4 percent to $219.86. Comito mentioned that he is optimistic that the summer numbers will be equal or better than last year despite the recovery stage hotels are in locally and globally revenue-wise.
“Thus far, we are anticipating the summer will be on par or slightly better than 2010 occupancy-wise,” he said. “We expect there to be stronger performance in room rates, still below pre-recession rates, as hotels in The Bahamas and worldwide continue to struggle to improve revenue.
“We are optimistic that we can at least maintain the increases which we realized in the fall of 2010 and build on that. With advanced bookings, particularly in group business, we are encouraged.”