The Bahamas attracted approximately 1.99 million tourists during 2021, the majority of which – 1.11 million – were cruise visitors and the remaining 882,141 stopover visitors.
Preliminary data from the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) was released by Tourism Analytics, a consulting firm headed by former MOT executive James Hepple.
“During calendar year (CY) 2021 The Bahamas saw a 94.9 percent increase in the number of stopover visitors, growing from 452,678 stopover visitors in CY 2020 to 882,141 stopovers in the same twelve months of 2021,” Tourism Analytics revealed.
The firm continued, “The Bahamas received a total of 1,115,181 cruise visitors in CY 2021, 84 percent of the 1,327,142 received in 2020 and 20.5 percent of the 5,433,359 cruise visitors received in CY 2019. Please note that these numbers are preliminary and may be subject to change.”
The numbers reflect the strengthening of the tourism sector, particularly buoyed by the return of cruises and the home porting exercises during the summer months of 2021.
However, the numbers still trail 2019’s historic tourist arrival numbers, which stood at 7.2 million cruise and stopover visitors.
Visitor arrivals for the month of December, while healthy, were less than those for November.
In December The Bahamas received more than 63,000 stopover visitors, less than the roughly 90,000 reported this week by The Central Bank of The Bahamas.
“The 63,358 stopovers received in December 2021 were 42.8 percent of the 148,138 stopovers received in December 2019. The Bahamas closed its borders to foreign visitors as of March 24th, 2020 and reopened its borders as of July 1st, 2020. Consequently, The Bahamas received 18,057 stopover visitors in December 2020,” Tourism Analytics stated.
“Of the 63,358 stopover visitors who arrived in December, 56,879 (89.8 percent) were from the US, with 2,275 coming from Canada and 2,295 from Europe. During December, 53,871 stopovers stayed in Nassau/Paradise Island, (85 percent of all stopovers), with 1,334 stopovers (2.1 percent) staying in Grand Bahama and 8,153 stopovers (12.9 percent) staying in the Out Islands. The Bahamas also received 373,289 cruise visitors in December 2021.”
Earlier this week, Tourism Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said the outlook for the sector remains strong despite a fall-off in the lucrative group business segment, which saw a dip due to rising cases at the start of the year associated with the Omicron variant.
He said the government was hopeful for a new, lower travel advisory rating from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as new COVID-19 infections have been on a steady decline in recent weeks.