Detailing a good year in tourism
The Ministry of Tourism laid out the numbers yesterday. The Bahamas welcomed a record-breaking number of visitors last year.
The data revealed 6.6 million tourists visited in 2018, an increase of 7.9 percent compared to 2017. The previous record was set in 2014 when 6.3 million tourists came to the country.
“The increase in our tourism business in 2018 was experienced nationwide, here in Nassau [and] Paradise Island, in Grand Bahama and in our major Family Islands,” said Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar.
“This is welcome, heartwarming news at a time when we are endeavoring to drive our nation’s economy into higher gear.”
Tourism is our main industry. Its success filters across the country, through all sectors.
In recent years tourism growth was driven by cruise arrivals. In 2018, the stopover segment, those guests who spend 10-plus times more than cruise visitors, grew significantly, too.
Air arrivals increased by 16.7 percent over 2017, a statistic the minister was particularly impressed by.
“What is so incredible about these numbers is the overall increase in air visitors, and that’s the critical component, because they’re spending on average $1,500 per person, so when that goes up by 16.7 percent, the economic impact of that is quite substantial,” D’Aguilar said.
Nassau and Paradise Island saw a four percent increase in visitors to 3.7 million. Of that number, 30.9 percent were air arrivals, and 69.1 percent were sea arrivals.
In Grand Bahama, there was a 9.1 percent increase in overall visitor arrivals; and the Family Islands collectively recorded a 14.9 percent increase in foreign air and sea arrivals.
Abaco had the greatest overall numbers among the Family Islands, with 437,825 foreign air and sea arrivals.
However, Eleuthera saw the greatest year-on-year difference with an increase of 86.6 percent compared to 2017, for a total number of 414,029 foreign air and sea arrivals.
Air arrivals on Eleuthera increased by 26.8 percent to 61,786.
The broad distribution of the arrivals, across many of our main islands, helps distribute wealth after a tough decade.
The Bahamas, in 2018 and 2019, is projected to have back-to-back years of growth upward of two percent for the first time in a while.
The better times for tourism are still on display here in New Providence. Tourists are everywhere, walking the streets, filling restaurants. Growth in the United States and Canada fuels this success.
Due to all the wealth lost in the Great Recession, it will take time for this growth to penetrate deeply into the community. Unemployment remains high. Nonetheless, we are on the right track.
Fair-minded Bahamians should shift from the defeatist, depressed attitude of the recession era and begin to embrace the reality that better times have begun. How long will these better times last? It’s hard to tell.
The greatest threat to global growth is the unnecessary trade spat between the United States and China. But with the American president heading to an election next year, and the Chinese afraid of social disorder due to the slowdown in their economy, resolution should happen soon – maybe as soon as next month.
All is not bad in The Bahamas. Those who tell you that have an agenda. We are emerging. Let’s hope this period of expansion lasts for many years.