By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A Bahamas Carnival Cruise promoter yesterday said his company had “more than tripled” its visitor bookings for this year’s festival year compared to 2016.
Stephan Rolle, owner of the Bahamas Carnival Cruise and Blue Monkey, said his company would have lost $25,000 had the festival’s two-week postponement been upheld.
“We have more than 100 persons booked now. With all of the potential investments that we would have made and ancillary expenses, we anticipated losing close to $25,000 if Carnival didn’t happen on the original date. We would have to reimburse some passengers and do some other things,” Mr Rolle told Tribune Business.
“Initially when the news first broke, we were a bit proactive. We let our people know that there were rumors and then, when the decision was formally made, we let them know what was going on. We asked them to be as patient as they could.
“We know that it was scary for them, and it was scary for us as well. There was a lot of anxiety in that regard, but we were proactive. We asked people to be patient with us and, luckily for us, they were,” Mr Rolle said.
“They did express their frustrations, and they did share their desire to cancel their trips and they were demanding refunds. Since the statement by the Minister of Tourism, we have sent out communications letting people know that we are back on and everything is good to go with the original dates. They are excited to come and experience the Bahamas. For a lot of them they have never been to the Bahamas before.”
The Ministry of Tourism, in a statement on Wednesday night, explained that the festival will take place on the original dates of May 4-6 and April 28-29.
This came after Obie Wilchcombe, minister of tourism, intervened in the matter after consultation with Prime Minister Perry Christie. The statement indicated that the Ministry of Tourism plans to work with the Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) as it ramps up marketing and promotion in New Providence and Grand Bahama.
“I think a lot of people are questioning what is going on. They don’t like the notion that something can be cancelled on a whim,” Mr Rolle said.
“A lot of these people live in the US, Canada and Europe, and have an expectation of how certain things should be run. It’s worrisome for them that something can be advertised a year in advance and postponed at a moment’s notice. People are continuing to complete their registrations and send us queries about activities in Nassau. For the most part, we are back on track and things are as normal as can be in light of the announcement that everything is back on track.”
Mr Rolle added that bookings with his company more than tripled compared to last year. “Last year we had a little over 50 persons. It wasn’t advertised as strongly,” he said.
“We were still testing the waters and trying to figure out some minor details. This year we have more than tripled our bookings since last year. I can attribute that to some of the partnerships we have with the Carnival band owners. They are using their reach on social media, and the partnerships that we have developed with them is also assisting our business to grow.
“We are assisting them with putting more persons on the road, and they are assisting us by putting more people on to our travel packages. We hope to get a few more bookings. People are continuing to express interest and we hope to maximise that.”