By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas could witness a resurgence in the boating market in the next few years, the Marina Operators of the Bahamas (MOB) president said yesterday, adding that reservations for his property were up 15-20 per cent over 2011.
Joseph Dargavage told Tribune Business that while the industry had not seen a record breaking summer, numbers were definitely up.
“After speaking to many of the marina owners and members of the MOB, it was a good summer,” he said. “It wasn’t a record breaking summer, but numbers were definitely up over the last couple of years and we have a number of new marinas that are being built in the Bahamas right now.
“I think that over the next few years we are really going to see a resurgence in the boating market in the Bahamas. Places like Bimini had some of their best numbers in many years.I really believe that this past summer is an indication that the boating economy is starting to turnaround, and we should see over the next couple of years continued growth.”
Mr Dargavage said the boating sector was looking at a promising winter season. “The winter time is nice. The summer crowd in the Bahamas is definitely a sport fishing crowd, more of a Florida-based crowd,” he added.
“In the summer, the water is a lot calmer so you get smaller boats. The winter time tends to bring your sailboaters because the wind is perfect for them. It brings in some of your larger boats and boats from further distances.
“Our reservations here at the Great Harbour Cay Yacht Club and Marina are up 15-20 per cent over last year. We’re really looking to have a banner year, and as long as fuel prices don’t go any higher than they are and the US economy stabilises, then the entire marina industry in the Bahamas should see a nice winter season.”
Mr Dargavage said the MOB, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, was also looking forward to a successful marketing push at this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
“From a marketing standpoint the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism, as well as the MOB, will have an amazing display atthe the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, which is from October 26 - 29, and is the largest boat show in the world,” he said.
“For a number of years now the Ministry of Tourism, along with the yachting and boating community, has had a very strong presence there. This is probably the number one marketing tool we have in the fall to market the Bahamas. Upwards of one million people come to the boat show. It gives the marina owners an opportunity to market to new clients.”