Arrival numbers ‘depressing’, but optimism on last-minute buyers

The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation continues to watch “depressing” arrival numbers for the first quarter of 2020, though it is cautiously optimistic that last-minute buyers will cause improvements to the numbers, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar told reporters yesterday.

D’Aguilar said while the country’s core tourism markets are beginning to rebound after the shock of Hurricane Dorian, visitors are booking later than they historically have.

“We’re optimistic. What we are seeing is three to four months out the numbers are depressing, but as you get closer the numbers improve drastically and dramatically,” he said.

“They’re booking later than they were in the past, but they’re booking nonetheless.”

D’Aguilar said part of the reason the industry continues to grow despite the impact of Dorian is that the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) has done “an excellent job of getting the message out that The Bahamas is open for business”.

“That message is beginning to resonate in our core markets: the United States, Canada and Great Britain,” said D’Aguilar.

According to him, January’s numbers are trending in the right direction and February is “looking promising”, but at the moment March will be a challenge.

He said if March numbers do not improve, the MOT will have to mobilize resources to “close the gap between last year and this year”.

He added that April, though, is looking good.

D’Aguilar said that while one of the two islands hardest hit by Hurricane Dorian, Grand Bahama, is experiencing a rebound in visitor arrivals, the second, Abaco, still has “a long way to go”.

“In a meaningful sense, Abaco is not open for tourism,” D’Aguilar said. “We’re going to have to make up those numbers in other islands.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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