Family Islands on path to set visitor arrivals record
Although visitor arrivals to The Bahamas showed an overall decline in 2017, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said the Family Islands experienced robust growth last year and is on track to set a record by the end of 2018.
“Two hundred and fifty thousand foreign visitors flew into the Family Islands in 2016; 285,000 flew into the Family Islands in 2017. And Mr. Speaker we’re expecting the number of foreign visitors flying into the Family Islands to exceed 300,000 for the very first time in the history of this country in 2018,” D’Aguilar said during his contribution to the mid-year budget debate in Parliament on Wednesday.
D’Aguilar said the growth in arrivals into the Family Islands, which has increased consistently since 2009, is due in part to the very high repeat visitor rate of approximately 66 percent. He said this high repeat visitor rate is anchored by second homeowners who are extremely loyal to their destination.
“Worthy of mention is Abaco, which saw its tourist arrivals increase by 10.4 percent in 2017 from 94,000 to 104,000; and the Marsh Harbour airport surpassing the Freeport airport to become the second busiest airport in the commonwealth,” D’Aguilar said.
“Also worthy of mention is Exuma, which saw its tourist arrivals increase by 21.7 percent from 50,000 to 61,000; and Eleuthera, which saw its tourist arrivals increase by 24.4 percent from 39,000 to 49,000.”
Grand Bahama, however, experienced an 18 percent decrease in air arrivals, which D’Aguilar attributed to the closure of the Grand Lucayan hotel, which is considered the life blood of Freeport’s tourism industry.