June 17, 2019
The Bahamas continues to exhibit a level of tourism sector performance that has translated into positive economic growth for the country, Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar told House Members, Thursday.
There have been historic increases in overall foreign visitor arrivals -- stopover visitors and cruise visitors in 2018.
The Tourism and Aviation Minister reported that stopover visitors to The Bahamas grew by 16.7 per cent in 2018 over 2017. By comparison, global tourism visits increased by 6 per cent.
Delivering his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget Debate that opened Wednesday in the House of Assembly (June 5), Minister D’Aguilar said the growth in visitor arrivals (within the past two years) has been nothing short of exceptional.
“In fact, I deemed 2018 a historic year for the Bahamian economy in that 6.6 million foreign visitors made The Bahamas their vacation destination --the most foreign visitors to come to The Bahamas in any one year in the history of this country!” Minister D’Aguilar said.
“In 2017, 6.1 million foreign visitors came to The Bahamas -- almost half a million more visitors came to The Bahamas in 2018 versus 2017.
“Mr. Speaker, if you delve further into the numbers, you will see that The Bahamas was firing on all cylinders in its tourism sector in 2018. If one were to look at the cruise stats, The Bahamas received almost 4.9 million cruise passengers or just over 13,000 every single day. Approximately half of those 4.9 million cruisers were on itineraries that made two or three stops in The Bahamas. So, those 4.9 million cruise passengers made 7.3 million visits to various destinations in The Bahamas in 2018 or 20,000 visits every single day.
“Never in the history of The Bahamas did we receive as many cruise passengers as we did in 2018. And remember, Mr. Speaker, I stopped the payment of any rebates to the cruise companies to bring cruise passengers to Nassau and, guess what, Mr. Speaker, they kept on coming! That should save the taxpayer $12 million a year! It is amazing, Mr. Speaker, what happens when you get business people with sense running your government!”
Minister D’Aguilar said while the news as it relates to cruise visitors was fantastic and exciting, stopover visitor arrivals were “off the chain in 2018.” Stopover visitors, Minister D’Aguilar explained to House Members, generally come to The Bahamas by air, take a taxi to their hotel, stay 3-to-4 nights in a hotel, shop in local stores, dine in local restaurants, gamble in local casinos and go on an excursions “touching Bahamians time and time again.”
“We love cruise passengers but we love stopover passengers even more since our studies reveal that they spend 20 times more that a cruise passenger. (And) So, when I stand here today and say that our stopover passengers grew by over 220,000 in 2018 or a whopping a 16.7% when compared to 2017, that is significant!”
Minister D’Aguilar said by comparison, global tourism visits increased by 6 percent to 1.4 billion visits.
“So, the world grew by 6 percent and The Bahamas grew by 16.7 percent. Regionally, the Caribbean received 25 million visits in 2018 -- down 2.3 percent in visits over the preceding year probably due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma and Maria.
“Once again, never in the history of The Bahamas did we have as many stopover visitors as we did in 2018. So, a record in cruise visitors! And now a record in stopover visitors! Now you understand why I was named Caribbean Tourism Minister of the Year in 2018. They simply could not pick anyone else!” Minister D’Aguilar added.
By Matt Maura