Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, the hotel industry is expected to end the year on a positive note, particularly after successful sales on Cyber Monday, according to Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association President Carlton Russell.
“The outlook for the remainder of the year, basically Cyber Monday was a good day for us. We saw bookings pick up not only for the end of the year, but also into the first quarter of next year. Many properties are still hurting and are still trying to rebound, but it looks to be very optimistic that Christmas and New Year’s Day, we are going to be quite full,” Russell told Guardian Business.
“We are monitoring the first quarter rather closely. It’s a little sluggish but it’s improving every day. So inch by inch, I think we have a very positive message to tell, let’s rebound and let’s rebuild better.”
Russell spoke to Guardian Business on the sidelines of the BHTA’s annual general meeting last week, where he delivered an address.
The meeting came just three months after Dorian leveled hotels in parts of Abaco, bringing tourism on the island to a standstill.
“The industry itself was posting quite well ahead of 2018; 2019 was our best year in ten years up to August 31. Then Dorian came. Of course, the entire industry came together. We suffered in Grand Bahama and also in Abaco, but I must say the rebound in Abaco I think is going to happen rather quickly,” he said.
“Right now Grand Bahama is about 80 percent operational on their activities, so it’s just a matter of time. There are a number of things the prime minister spoke of related to Grand Bahama and the initiatives going on there.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who also addressed the BHTA meeting, noted that as of mid-October, many of Abaco’s resorts revealed they are gearing up to reopen in 2021, with resorts such as Hope Town Inn and Marina, Bluff House, Green Turtle Club, Leeward Yacht Club and Marina, Bahama Beach Club, The Abaco Club on Winding Bay and Treasure Cay Beach, Marina and Golf Resort being either weeks or months away from refurbishment or commencing rebuilding.
He added that the Abaco Beach Resort and The Sandpiper Inn are currently open, but with limited capacity as they are accommodating relief workers on the island.
Prior to Hurricane Dorian, tourism was on track to experience its best year ever, with projections that The Bahamas would break through the 7 million visitor threshold.
Arrivals to August this year were up 13 percent over 2018, while room revenue was up 25 percent for the large Nassau/Paradise Island hotels.
Russell added, “As it relates to Nassau/Paradise Island, I always say the proof is in the pudding and the numbers are really in the year to date numbers. When you look at 2019 over 2018, we’re still double figures in growth and that’s up to October. We’re still waiting on the final statistics from the Ministry of Tourism.”