The Bahamas lagging behind region in tourism rebound

Although The Bahamas is set to see at least 80 percent of 2019 tourist arrivals this summer, according to data from the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), it is still trailing behind other regional destinations that are projected to see higher numbers than what was recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sonia Huerta, head of customer success at Mabrian Technologies, provided insight on travelers’ booking and spending patterns based on scheduled direct flights to top Caribbean destinations between June and September 2022.

Data showed that while the Dominican Republic was projected to see eight percent more visitors this summer over 2019, Puerto Rico was projected to see four percent more, and Jamaica was projected to see one percent more, The Bahamas would see 20 percent less than 2019 and Barbados would see 44 percent less.

Huerta said much of this could be attributed to travel restrictions that remain for unvaccinated travelers in both destinations.

“When we look at the speed of recovery by destination compared to the first part of the year, we can see that almost all destinations except for The Bahamas, Barbados and Aruba by summer will almost be to the same level (as 2019) to bring people to their destinations. As I explained earlier, Barbados was heavily dependent on the UK market, a market that hasn’t fully recovered and has labor shortages for British Airways, so it’s a market that’s suffering, not because they don’t want to travel but because we have all these barriers and logistical obstacles,” she said.

“And also because Barbados, for instance, up until May had all these restrictions for unvaccinated travelers, and The Bahamas still has restrictions for unvaccinated travelers. So that is really putting a barrier to their recovery, when we see all these other destinations that will have a better summer than 2019.”

Overall, the Caribbean is expected to see seven percent more direct flights between June and September this year, than what was recorded in 2019 before the pandemic.

However, Huerta said that momentum is expected to continue during the latter part of the year based on scheduled direct flights between October and December 2022, which shows bookings on par of 2019 for The Bahamas.

“When we look at destinations we see that almost all of them are reaching 2019 levels. The Bahamas is already reaching 2019 levels. Barbados is lagging more behind, but we see a higher recovery in more destinations,” she said.

Earlier this month, the government eliminated the requirement of the Bahamas Travel Health Visa as well as the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for vaccinated travelers entering the country.

Unvaccinated travelers are still required to present a negative COVID-19 test upon entry to the country.

The elimination of the travel health visa also means travelers do not have to pay the $40 fee attached for non-Bahamian residents.

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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