Data gathered by the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA) reveals that there is increasing interest in travel to The Bahamas and that the country is well-positioned geographically to benefit when international travel from the United States begins again, according to MOTA Director General Joy Jibrilu.
Jibrilu, who was speaking at the ministry’s Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee press conference, said given the announcement of a possible July 1 full opening of the tourism sector and gradual opening starting June 15, there is likely to be increased interest as airlines and travel partners plan for those dates.
The country’s tourism industry has been completely shut down for more than two months due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Much of the data is indicating that The Bahamas is well-positioned to capitalize on the pent up demand that we see in the marketplace,” said Jibrilu.
“In speaking with all of our partners, they are all telling us the same thing. And so there is this sense of hope and very cautious optimism.
“From today, with the announcement that we have made, we are able to reach out to our airline partners, we are able to let them know that they now can load up The Bahamas as a destination… We’re getting feedback for August, for September, certainly into the Thanksgiving period, we could begin getting actual bookings and we will, in a very short period of time, be able to put tangible figures behind that.”
The MOTA revealed in a press statement on its website that American Airlines will resume international flights to Nassau and Exuma, beginning July 7.
MOTA announced yesterday that there will be a phased opening of the tourism sector that starts with boaters, yachters and private pilots being allowed into the country.
Jibrilu said data received from Expedia, Travel Zoo and other MOTA travel partners, reveals that interest in travel to The Bahamas is growing in the wake of COVID-19, as people seek out vacations based on proximity to home.
“Within a three- to four-hour journey,” she said.
While the return of stopover visitors seems within reach for the country, cruise lines continue to push their dates to begin sailing further back into the summer, with Carnival Cruise Line eyeing early August and Royal Caribbean International hoping to sail by the end of August.
Jibrilu said MOTA will use that time to test its COVID-19 mitigation protocols throughout the tourism sector, especially in Downtown Nassau, which will continue to be starved of tourists for the next two to three months.
“We will know in a couple of weeks when cruise tourism is expected back,” she said.