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Better Links To 15% Out Island Cruise Rise Goal

By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net WHILE CRUISE arrivals to the Family Islands grew by 15 per cent in 2011, the minister of tourism and aviation yesterday said he wanted these calls to be better combined with visits to Nassau and Grand Bahama, so passenger spend benefited more Bahamian businesses. Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace told Tribune Business: "A significant number of cruise arrivals to the Family Islands is good, but it's better when it is combined with either Grand Bahama and Nassau, where most of the spend happens. It's very good, but we want cruise passengers to come into the area where the spend is greater." Family Island calls frequently tend to be stops by the cruise lines at their own private islands. The concern here is that passenger spending tends to be retained largely by the cruise lines and the excursions they operate, rather than making its way into the hands of Bahamian businesses and entrepreneurs. A Ministry of Tourism and Aviation report, obtained by Tribune Business, noted that cruise arrivals to the Bahamas overall grew by 9 per cent year-over-year in 2011. It said that by the end of 2011, both air and sea arrivals to the Bahamas had climbed to 5.6 million, up by 6.3 per cent over the previous year. The report added: "The growth in arrivals in 2011 was up, but the upswing was driven primarily by cruise arrivals, as the stopover arrivals were hindered by difficult global economic conditions." The number of calls made to the Bahamas by various cruise lines increased by 2 per cent. The Ministry report said the growth in cruise arrivals was brought on by additional visitors from lines such as Carnival, Disney Cruises, and Holland American and, Aida which called on the Bahamas in 2011, and Carnival Magic Cruise which was added to the Bahamas' itinerary for the first time in 2011. Cruise arrivals to the Family Islands grew by 15 per cent in 2011, compared to 2010, because of the increase in the number of calls by first port of entry. Ports in the Family Islands, when looked at independently of Nassau/Paradise Island and Grand Bahama, saw over two million visitors. Cruise arrivals to Nassau/Paradise Island grew by 5 per cent in 2011, compared to 2010, despite the fact that the number of calls by first port of entry to Nassau/Paradise Island declined. The growth in cruise arrivals was stimulated by the fact that Carnival and Royal Caribbean brought in more cruise visitors on larger ships than they had done in the past. Cruise arrivals to Grand Bahama grew by 10 per cent in 2011, despite the fact that the number of calls by first port of entry declined, coupled with the loss of the Discovery Cruise Line's Discovery Sun during September 2011. Grand Bahama, when assessed independently of the rest of the Bahamas, received 843,307 cruise visitors in 2011, not including visitors who may have used their ship for accommodation but stayed in a hotel. In Grand Bahama, cruise visitor arrivals for the fourth quarter were 144,403. Cruise visitor arrivals to Nassau/Paradise Island for the 2011 fourth quarter reached 1.2 million passengers.

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