By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
GRAND Bahama needs an additional 5,000-10,000 hotel rooms as the government works “assiduously” to generate even more airlift to the island.
Recent Ministry of Tourism statistics showed significant improvements in hotel room revenue on Grand Bahama, which has hit $16 million this year- a $2 million increase over 2014. The increase in tourism business has been attributed to the Grand Celebration Cruise ship and the Sunwing Group, which are responsible for a total of 14,000 room nights per month on the island.
“When we came in in 2012 Grand Bahama was at an all-time low. Now our numbers are competitive with the numbers that we had in 2008 and before that and we might in fact hit the one million mark this year in Grand Bahama which would be a significant increase based on all that is going on,” Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe told Tribune Business yesterday.
“There is the continued increase in the arrivals by cruise and air, the additional inventory that will come on later this year, the Lighthouse will open up later this year on the Lucayan strip and there are other developments taking place. We feel quite good but is it enough? Grand Bahama needs to have additional 5,000-10,000 hotel rooms because when we talk about Grand Bahama we are talking about east and west and Grand Bahama,” said Mr Wilchcombe.
According to tourism figures, there was a 4.6 per cent increase in the amount of available rooms on the island this year. In June, there were 352,767 rooms occupied compared to 337,009 last year.
“We need more airlift and we are working assiduously on that,” Mr Wilchcombe said. “We are pleased with the amount of airlift coming out of Florida because we had lost a lot of airlift in that area and now its back up. The Canadian market is doing very well but we want more airlift into Grand Bahama.”
Mr Wilchcombe said that there is a need to get more night time flights into the destination. “The fact is around 7 to 8pm the airports are closed. We’re forgetting that whether it is our taxi drivers or others, there is more to be had if we had more business in the night hours. We have work to do but we have made a significant comeback.”