The Ministry of Tourism has earmarked $1 million for an ad campaign specific to Grand Bahama to offset Sunwing Travel Group’s cancellation of its summer airlift schedule for the island.
Last October, the company announced that it would cut ties with the island because it had “reached an impasse with the government”.
Chief Marketing and Technology Officer for Sunwing Janine Massey suggested at the time that Grand Bahama hotels would suffer this summer due to its decision.
However, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar told The Nassau Guardian that his ministry has taken steps to ensure this would not happen.
“We went to a number of cities in the United States,” he said in a recent interview.
“We went with some of the stakeholders from Grand Bahama representing the hotels, the ground operators, Bahamasair, because they were going to provide the additional airlift into Grand Bahama.
“Our initial results from Expedia [are] showing an uptick in bookings to Grand Bahama as a result of said campaign.
“It was decided that to compensate for their decision to pull out that we would not leave Grand Bahama high and dry, that we would allocate this million dollars to launch and to roll out a Grand Bahama island-specific ad campaign.”
The ministry also launched an aggressive online and television marketing strategy to promote summer travel to the island.
According to Karen Seymour, the Ministry of Tourism’s director of Grand Bahama, the campaign has been running for several months.
“It started with some off-shore marketing along with Bahamas tourism offices within the U.S.,” she said.
“We had promotion and sales missions in various locations, but largely concentrated in Florida.”
In its statement announcing the decision to stop operating in Grand Bahama, Sunwing said that it had consistently exceeded its promised load factors when bringing Americans and Canadians to Grand Bahama, and helped to keep many Grand Bahama hotels open.
However, D’Aguilar said that the government had “overcompensated” Sunwing for the efforts it put into Grand Bahama, and the company in turn “underdelivered” on a deal to bring in 20,000 passengers per year.
To date, the company has not pulled out of the island completely.
Seymour explained that only the company’s summer airlift schedule was pulled.
“We have an ongoing relationship,” she added.
“…They are still flying into Nassau. They are still coming here in the winter. It’s only the summer program. We mitigated that substantially.”