Central Bank report reveals dismal tourist numbers

The Central Bank of The Bahamas’ (CBOB) Monthly Economic and Financial Developments (MEFD) report for the month of July outlines the stark contraction in visitor numbers to The Bahamas for the first half of the year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with New Providence seeing a 62 percent decline, Grand Bahama a 68 percent decline and the Family Islands a 42 percent decline year-on-year.

The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation’s (MOTA) numbers in the MEFD report show that when the borders partially reopened on June 15 and officially reopened to visitors on July 1, the numbers were dismal compared to their counterpart figures from 2019.

Those numbers show a 99.4 percent decrease in visitors to The Bahamas for June 2020, compared to June 2019.

“Tourism sector activity remained contracted during the month of June, as travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic largely eliminated both air and sea arrivals,” the MEFD report states.

“As the border was partially reopened to international travelers by private aviation and boat on June 15, preliminary data provided by the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) revealed that total foreign arrivals for the month of June reached 3,935, relative to the 18.8 percent increase to 641,410 a year earlier. Specifically, sea arrivals totaled 2,230, in contrast to the 22.9 percent expansion to 473,018 in June 2019.

“Similarly, air arrivals were just 1,705, in comparison to an 8.7 percent growth to 168,392 in the previous year. A breakdown by major port of entry showed that total visitors to New Providence reduced to a mere 1,032, vis-à-vis a 20.5 percent increase to 333,519 in the preceding year, with sea and air visitors amounting to 549 and 483, respectively.”

The report reveals that family island visitors declined to 2,359 compared to the 239,952 people who visited those islands last year.

The MEFD report reveals that Grand Bahama visitors declined to just 544 this year, after a 7.4 percent boost to 67,939 in the prior year, compared to 2018.

“During the first half of the year, total arrivals contracted by 56.1 percent, a turnaround from a 14.1 percent expansion recorded in the same period of 2019, reflecting reductions of 64.4 percent in air traffic and 53.3 percent in sea passengers,” the MEFD report states.

“As the borders officially reopened to commercial air traffic on July 1, the most recent data provided by the Nassau Airport Development Company Limited (NAD) showed that total international departures amounted to just 8,933 during the review month, in comparison to the 10.3 percent improvement, to 171,320 in the same period of 2019.

“On a year-to-date basis, aggregate departures contracted by 63.7 percent, a reversal from the 17.8 percent expansion during the corresponding period last year. Underlying this development, the U.S. segment reduced by 64.8 percent, overturning the 19.3 percent increase in the preceding year. Similarly, the non-U.S. segment decreased by 56.3 percent, vis-à-vis an 8.9 percent gain in 2019.”

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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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