‘Dramatic’ increase in rooms over next three years, says Cooper

Room capacity could increase by 30 to 40 percent, says tourism minister

The Bahamas’ room capacity could increase by 30 to 40 percent in the next three years as a result of developments in the tourism sector, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said yesterday.

Cooper made the remarks while on Z Live on Guardian Radio 96.9 FM.

He called the room capacity increase “fairly dramatic”.

“In South Eleuthera… we have the Ritz (Carlton) that’s making fairly significant progress. Cotton Bay, you know, there’s talks there as well of steady, steady progress. In South Abaco, there are two very large projects in the $800 million range. So, I expect if we’re able to really get these projects going quickly in the next three to five years, I would say, that we’d be able to dramatically increase room capacity by say 30 or 40 percent.”

Cooper has said on numerous occasions that the country is in need of more room capacity, as visitor interest in this country increases.

He declared recently that there seems to have been an end to the country’s typical slow season.

“Soft season, as you put it; slow season, as we sometimes call it, it’s officially a thing of the past,” Cooper said.

“We have worked very hard as a team. We have worked very hard putting in place opportunities for increased airlift from many of our markets.”

He said yesterday that in this typically slow month of September, some New Providence properties have been running at 80 percent occupancy.

Cooper contends that the country will have a record number of visitors this year. He predicts more than eight million.

The country has seen an increase in airlift thanks to new routes, and in cruise traffic thanks to an upgraded cruise port.

Cooper said last week that there will be a focus on the West Coast of the US, with direct flights coming before the end of the year, along with other new routes.

“You’re seeing JetBlue come in November, you’re seeing new airlift come from Seattle, LA, and other cities with Alaska Airlines,” he said.

“We see American Airlines ramping up significantly. We see Delta providing a lot of new services. We see GSX in Abaco providing a jet service direct to Abaco.

“American Airlines, our largest airline partner, continues to increase capacity and flights into Eleuthera, Exuma, Abaco and in New Providence.”

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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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