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Tourism minister laments drop in stopover visitors to GB

Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar pointed out that the “most painful” part of Grand Bahama’s decline in air arrivals was its loss in stopover visitors, which contributes significantly to the island’s economy.

Speaking with Guardian Business yesterday, D’Aguilar said it is obvious that the decline in overall visitors to Grand Bahama was a direct result of the closure of the Grand Lucayan strip.

“We are hopeful in short order we can bring about a deal, even if it means the government intervening in the short-term to get things going,” he said.

First quarter statistics recently released by the Central Bank reveal that Grand Bahama suffered an over 40 percent decline in air arrivals. In addition, the island had a near 17 percent decline in overall visitor arrivals. This was recorded as the “largest decline” in visitors for the quarter when compared to New Providence and other Family Islands.

“What is most painful about that is that these are stopover visits,” D’Aguilar said.

The tourism minister noted that stopover visitors spend more than 22 times what a cruise passenger spends.

He said the loss of stopover visitors “had a significant dragging effect on the numbers in Freeport”.

But the country’s tourism woes do not stop in Grand Bahama.

The first quarter results showed that in New Providence, air arrivals declined by 9.8 percent and sea visitors by 14.7 percent.

The data showed that the tourism sector had an average growth rate of 2.4 percent over the last five years. D’Aguilar asserted that most of the tourism growth has been through cruise ship arrivals.

He added that achieving tourism growth for The Bahamas is a “tough nut to crack”.

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