Central Bank: Tourist arrivals decline still not worse than 2008 financial crisis

There were just over 1,000 international departures from Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) during the month of June, when the country partially reopened its borders, highlighting the continued strain on global travel, according to The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB).

The bank’s Monthly Economic and Financial Developments report for June indicated continued contraction in tourism output, as prolonged global travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to strangle the country’s primary economic engine.

“After the borders partially reopened to private aviation on June 15, the latest data provided by Nassau Airport Development Company Limited (NAD) showed that total international departures stood at 1,006 during the review month, relative to a seasonal expansion of 16.9 percent to 148,597 in the same period last year,” the report noted.

“During the first half of the year, outward bound traffic contracted by 57.6 percent, a turnaround from a 19.4 percent expansion in the prior year. Underpinning this outcome, the US component reduced by 58.7 percent, a reversal from a 21.1 percent increase in the previous year; and the non-US component decreased by 51 percent vis-à-vis a 10 percent rise in 2019.”

But despite the devastating blow the COVID-19 pandemic has had on tourist arrivals since March, the impact is still not as severe as the impact on the sector during the 2008 financial crisis, the Central Bank stated.

“On March 23, 2020 The Bahamas’ border officially closed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the most recent data from NAD showed that total visitor departures declined by 49.1 percent for the first half of 2020, a reversal from a 19.9 percent rise in 2019. Nevertheless, levels were cumulatively 64.4 percent higher than during the global recession of 2008,” the report states.

With 4,094 listings since mid-June, the vacation rental market for the month of June showed a 67 percent reduction in total room nights sold, as bookings for entire place listings fell by 68.2 percent and hotel comparable listings by 53.6 percent.

“Similarly, the average daily room rate (ADR) for both hotel comparable listings and entire place listings declined by 3.4 percent and 2.2 percent, to $144.47 and $412.68, respectively,” the MEFD notes.

“On a year-to-date basis, total room nights sold decreased by 39.2 percent, owing to retrenchments of 40.7 percent and 24.8 percent in bookings for entire place listings and hotel comparable listings, respectively. Pricing indicators varied, as the ADR for hotel comparable listings moved lower by 1.5 percent to $155.52, while the ADR for entire place listings rose by 1.0 percent to $405.01.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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