By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas saw sustained gains in its tourism revenue during the first two months of 2015, with room revenues improving by 11 per cent according to the Central Bank.
In its monthly economic report for February the Central Bank noted that the 11 per cent room revenue improvement included a 8.2 per cent increase in the average occupancy rate to 70.5 per cent.
The regulator said this was “reflecting the combination of a higher visitor count and a reduction in inventory, due to the closure of a few mid-sized properties for renovations.”
The Central Bank went on to note that the average daily room rate firmed by 8.9 per cent to $268.11.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe recently told Tribune Business that Nassau/Paradise Island still need an additional 100,000-seat increase in airlift capacity within the next three to four months to satisfy the demand for all of the current hotel properties and those set to come on stream.
Tourism and hotel industry stakeholders had estimated in the past that a 400,000-seat increase in airlift capacity into the Bahamas would be needed for Baha Mar’s opening with its more than 2,000 hotel rooms.
Mr Wilchcombe told Tribune Business: “The responses by the airlines have been very positive and there is certainly a willingness to expand capacity into Nassau once airlines see demonstrated demand from Baha Mar.
“The airlift is there but we have to continuously increase based upon markets. To maintain the trek that we’re on we have to ensure that we’re on the ground talking to people and getting more business into The Bahamas and sustaining it. We’re comfortable today but we are working assiduously to get more airlift to The Bahamas.”
The Central Bank in its report for February said: “Expectations are the economy’s growth pace should continue to strengthen over the next six months, as tourism activity benefits from improvements in several key source markets, the phased launch of the multi-billion dollar Baha Mar resort, and the hosting of a number of sporting and cultural events,” referring to events like The Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival and the second installment of the IAAF World Relays.