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Hotel revenues up 1.8% as air arrivals fall back

Despite air arrivals to New Providence as a first port of entry tumbling 3.3 percent for the first 10 months of 2011, Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) President, Stuart Bowe, says major hotels on the island will end the year ahead of 2010.

Preliminary statistics out of the Ministry of Tourism show that while arrivals by sea continue to outpace record performance levels achieved in 2010, air arrivals remain sluggish and far below pre-recession levels.   However, key indicators including revenue per available room (RevPAR) and room revenue are up for the capital’s hotel industry.

“Overall, year-to-date we remain on course to show modest increases in all hotel statistical areas Bowe told Guardian Business in an e-mail response to questions posed to him.

“This aligns with our forecast to complete 2011 ahead of 2010.”

Through October, 14 major hotels in New Providence reported room revenue up 1.8 percent year to date, aided by a strong 10.4 percent increase in September, despite hurricane Irene.  The month of October showed a 1.6 percent decline in room revenue.  Bowe attributed October’s growth to aggressive promotion by the industry and the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) and stronger group bookings.

He said the BHA was encouraged to see group business returning to pre-recession levels and looking strong into 2012.

RevPAR for the first ten months climbed to $152.53, up from $148.74 for the first ten months of 2010 for the New Providence hotels in the BHA survey.

“The most important number to look at is revenue per available room, which showed a nearly $3 per room increase,” Bowe told Guardian Business.

“Year to date our average daily rate remains up.  Our objective this fall has been to increase occupancy and revPAR and that is being done in part by putting in place more attractive and competitive rates to beef up the shoulder season.”

October saw a loss in available room nights of 391 rooms at Breezes and 144 rooms at Sandals, which closed for renovations.  Together they represented 4.9 percent of available room nights.

Foreign air arrivals to the capital still point to much lost potential compared to pre-recession levels.   Arrivals to New Providence as a first port of entry were 806,335 at the end of October 2011 according to preliminary data from the MOT.  For comparison purposes, after ten months, they stood at 833,841 for 2010, 801,144 for 2009, 862,961 for 2008 and 892,904 for 2007.  2006 was even higher at 912,184 by the end of October.

Preliminary results showed air arrivals for The Bahamas were down 3.8 percent to 1,052,035 for the first ten months.  Grand Bahama as a first port of entry saw a 17.0 percent decline to 80,119 by the end of October.  The Family Islands saw air arrivals up 1.4 percent to 165,581.

Sea arrivals to New Providence for the same period are up 2.3 percent, now at 1,591,707 according to the preliminary results.  The Bahamas overall saw 7.5 percent more sea arrivals, 3,461,795 visitors using this means of entry for the period.

Total foreign arrivals to The Bahamas are up 4.6 percent for the year through October,  4,513,830 visitors recorded for the period.

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