The Bahamas experienced record-breaking visitor numbers in 2018, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar revealed yesterday.
The data presented showed that 6.6 million tourists visited the country last year, an increase of 7.9 percent compared to the 2017 numbers.
According to the numbers, 6.1 million tourists visited The Bahamas in 2017.
Previously, 2014 was the year with the highest number of visitors, when 6.3 million tourists entered the country.
“As a nation, we have been seriously engaged in the tourism business for about six decades,” D’Aguilar said at a press conference at the ministry’s office.
“The research has been done, and I can now unequivocally assert that The Bahamas received, in 2018, far more visitors than in any year of its entire history of tourism endeavor.
“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.
“This is welcome, heartwarming news at a time when we are endeavoring to drive our nation’s economy into higher gear.”
Air arrivals increased overall by 16.7 percent over 2017, a statistic that 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 the number of 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.
Exuma saw a smaller increase of 1.9 percent, but saw 62,885 foreign air and sea arrivals. Of those, 62,123 were air arrivals.
D’Aguilar attributed the positive numbers to improved marketing.
“In the international marketplace, tourism is an arena of fierce competition,” he said.
“Through strategic, dynamic advertising, marketing and promotions, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, along with major hotels and other key stakeholders, has been quite successful at elevating awareness and visibility of The Bahamas brand among travel consumers.”
He added, “I think we’ve done an awesome job marketing the destination.
“We started our new campaign with Lenny Kravitz. It’s created enormous brand awareness.
“The Bahamas is a hot place to come to right now.”
The only islands listed that did not outperform their 2017 numbers were Cat Cay and Half Moon Cay, which saw overall decreases in foreign air and sea arrivals of 1.1 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.
Bimini also saw a decrease of 10.2 percent in air arrivals. However, its overall foreign air and sea arrival numbers increased by 8.9 percent.
While many major islands saw increases, there was still a notable difference in the number of people visiting islands in the southern Bahamas, compared to other Family Islands.
Cat Island, Long Island and Inagua each saw fewer than 2,000 foreign air and sea arrivals.
Data for Crooked Island, Acklins, Mayaguana and Rum Cay was not available.
However, Tourism Director General Joy Jibrilu clarified that the numbers for the Family Islands did not take into account the visitors who stop over in Nassau before arriving at Family Island destinations. Those visitors were included in the numbers for New Providence.