Tourism optimism as summer numbers trend in positive direction

Nassau’s mega resorts could see occupancies in the 50 and 60 percent range this summer, as the tourism rebound curve trends in the right direction, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar told Guardian Business yesterday.

D’Aguilar added that The Bahamas’ travel health visa continues to provide good insight into the numbers of people planning to travel to The Bahamas, especially now that the visa has been tweaked to include entry for vaccinated visitors without the need for a negative COVID-19 test.

He said while The Bahamas’ plan was “a bit fuzzy coming out of the starting gate”, he is optimistic that the country’s tourism product will bounce back according to plan.

“Those numbers are headed in the right direction, but they’re still low compared to 2019,” said D’Aguilar.

“The Family Islands are bouncing back faster than Nassau.”

The Bahamas is in the top five of the top ten countries being researched by people who use travel search engine Kayak, the company revealed in a press statement released yesterday. 

The Bahamas is listed along with Caribbean destinations such as Cancun, Mexico; Punta Cana, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica and Aruba.

Kayak explained in its release that fully vaccinated people are looking to the Caribbean for vacations as they plan for the release of their pent up demand for travel. 

“Looking at the last seven days, the Caribbean is showing great signs of recovery, with travel search interest down only 16 percent compared to the same period in 2019, likely due to eased restrictions for vaccinated US travelers announced earlier than most places,” Kayak stated.

D’Aguilar said vaccinated travelers are beginning to apply for their travel health visas for travel through September.

Calling the mega hotels the tourism industry’s “bread and butter”, he said those properties’ occupancy numbers have been gradually trending in the right direction.

“The large hotels with lots of rooms, they were in their teens and then they were in their 20s,” he said. “Now they’re in the 30s. Certainly as we move into the summer they expect 50 to 60 percent.”

D’Aguilar explained that during US holidays this year, those hotels’ occupancy rates could hit the low 80s.

He added that family island business has been booming, especially in regards to wealthy individuals.

“By having this health visa you get to see the stats right out front,” said D’Aguilar.

“So you get to measure the amount of applications going to the Family Islands… the Family Islands are quite robust.

“The high-net-worth travelers are moving, they’re on their yachts, they’re on their private planes and that segment of the market has rebounded very robustly.” 

D’Aguilar said while winter 2021 will not be back to 2019 numbers, he foresees positive numbers given the ongoing global pandemic.

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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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