The Bahamas hit a record 7.2 million tourist visitors in 2019, despite the loss of the country’s second biggest tourism earner, Abaco, after it was devastated by Hurricane Dorian in September, Minister of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA) Dionisio D’Aguilar revealed yesterday.
During a press conference at Baha Mar resort to reveal the record-breaking year – up nine percent over 2018 – D’Aguilar explained that The Bahamas saw its highest number of stopover visitors from the United States ever, with 1.45 million Americans coming to The Bahamas; and its highest ever number of stopover visitors generally, at 1.78 million.
“Today it is with great pride we report that the islands of The Bahamas have exceeded a record-breaking seven million visitors in 2019 – our strongest tourism numbers in history,” D’Aguilar said.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment, particularly in light of the challenging year we as a country just endured.
“I stand before you with tremendous gratitude and admiration for every single one of my fellow Bahamians who have shown the world the true meaning of resilience. The impact of Hurricane Dorian has not slowed The Bahamas’ tourism growth.”
D’Aguilar explained that data-driven marketing, authentic storytelling and aggressive public relations, along with sales and airlift strategies, led to last year’s record success.
He explained that the MOTA moved around its marketing resources after the passage of Hurricane Dorian, so as to not lose the momentum of visitors due to misinformation about what islands were affected by the storm.
“At the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, our priority is to safeguard The Bahamas’ economy through initiatives that will fuel the critical tourism sector,” D’Aguilar said.
“We began our campaign in the days immediately following Hurricane Dorian and have remained diligently aggressive ever since. Ministry executives have traveled to New York and Miami, to Canada, London, Australia and Paris, speaking at top tourism conferences and meeting with travel partners, media and influencers to spread the message that The Bahamas is open, beautiful and ready to welcome all with open arms.
“This sentiment has been embraced wholeheartedly, sparking international headlines and content encouraging travel to our islands.”
According to D’Aguilar, the Family Islands are the most recession proof part of The Bahamas’ tourism product, explaining that many of the visitors to the Family Islands are repeat visitors. He said tourism statistics reveal that 60 percent of the visitors to Abaco are repeat visitors.
“Abaco was our leading family island destination; they were humming until August 31,” he said. “September 1 onwards, they have gone down to negligible numbers.”
D’Aguilar said the MOTA will continue to build on its 2019 marketing success this year.
“We have an aggressive sales and marketing plan for 2020,” he said.
“We are particularly excited about the opportunity to capitalize on Super Bowl LIV happening in our key source market, with targeted media activations during and around key Super Bowl events. Media placements include local broadcast TV, billboards, aerial media, geotargeted digital ads, mobile billboards, booths and captivating digital banners at Aventura Mall and Sawgrass Mall.”
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism