'We Need Tourists To Spend More Money'

By Natario McKenzie

Tribune Business Reporter


Tourism Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar yesterday stressed that The Bahamas needs to get its six million annual visitors to spend more money, suggesting that a 'radically different' approach is needed to tourism development in the country.

Mr D'Aguilar who addressed tourism stakeholders at the British Colonial Hilton yesterday admitted that it was a 'worrisome' fact that the higher spending stop-over visitor segment has seen very little growth over the years.

"Stopover visitors are the most important determinant of the total spend. Our cruise ship passengers are spending $69 and our stopover visitors are spending approximately $1,500. The cruise ship passengers represent 75 per cent of our visitor arrivals yet they only represent 12 per cent of the spend. There is our dilemma. While our numbers are growing, it's in the cruise sector. Our stopover visitors have remained constant between 1.4-1.6 million. This is a worrying fact," said Mr D'Aguilar.

Mr D'Aguilar added: "In 2016, the decline in stopovers already began with numbers falling 0.2 per cent year-on-year. In fact, stopover numbers year-to-date are already down six per cent. Clearly, the status quo can't remain. The stakes are very high. There is no doubt that we need a radically different approach to tourism development and we need it now. We have to figure out how to get these 6.2 million to spend more in our economy. It's not so important to grow the number but to get more spend."

Mr D'Aguilar noted that The Bahamas witnessed 'respectable' 4.2 per cent growth in tourist arrivals between 1995-2011. "From 2011 to 2016, that rate of growth has slowed to 2.3 per cent which if you compare it to our Caribbean neighbours is actually almost half of the rate of growth happening in the rest of the Caribbean today. Caribbean tourism has grown nearly twice as fast at 4.3 per cent annual growth since 2011. We did fairly well up until 2011 but if you look at the numbers we now slowed down to 2.3 per cent," Mr D'Aguilar noted.

Still, he argued that rather than simply focus on the numbers, more focus should be placed on the economic value of visitor arrivals. "Between 2000-2015, our visitor arrivals have increased but the spend per visitor has actually decreased 30 per cent during the period. Our visitor arrivals are up 48 per cent but our spend is down 28 per cent. Our visitor arrivals went from 4.1 million in 2000 to 6.2 million. The average spend has decreased from $586 to $422. What's happened is the decline in spend per visitor has significantly offset the total arrival growth the last few years. If one accounts for inflation, total tourism spend in The Bahamas has remained virtually constant since 2000," said Mr D'Aguilar.


killemwitdakno 1 year, 1 month ago

You need to clean up the friggin place.


Bahamiandays 1 year, 1 month ago

The quality of what we offer as a tourist destination has diminished drastically, yet the $$ it costs the tourist to visit here is astronomical .... no value for dollar spent.


Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 1 month ago

Why is this imbecile only re-hashing the history of our tourism problems, a history that we are all so well acquainted with? Doesn't he know why the people voted for the new FNM government and what he should be doing as Minister of Tourism?! Our country is in such a mess that we really have little time to suffer fools!! Just get on with what you should be doing Mr. d'Aguilar, and stop all of the unnecessary yapping....it's really quite unbecoming of the important ministerial role that you have.


Economist 1 year, 1 month ago

Bay Street used to have good shopping until we swamped it with the low end Carnival Cruise ship passengers.

The shops down graded for these passengers. With the exception of John Bull, gone are the good stores. All now cater to the tourists that the Bahamas government has subsidized to come to ruin our shores.

There is nothing for the high end tourist to come to., No good restaurants anymore either.

We need to get selective and only allow the high end cruises here.

Step one, get rid of Carnival Cruise ships.


DaGoobs 1 year, 1 month ago

If only Bay Street's decline was as simple as tee shirt shops and low end merchants. Due to poor traffic design and parking issues, many stores and businesses moved away from Bay Street. People only came out there to bank, go to court and go to work; they stopped coming out there to shop except maybe when John Bull is having a sale. Stores like the food store, pharmacy, shoe store, hotel, movie theatre, hardware store, clothing store, night clubs, restaurants and others that used to be on Bay Street closed down due to declining sales, crime, high rents, high renovation costs, high import costs, real property taxes, changing tastes and changing demographics. Bay Street property owners don't get the kind of tax evasion breaks from government that hotels, manufacturers and certain industries get. Then the bumsels moved in, sleeping around the courts and other buildings. The government itself is one of those guilty of neglect. Look at the state of the Rodney Bain Building (formerly the E D Sassoon Building), the Royal Victoria complex, the General Post Office building. Pollution from the smoke generated by cruise ships has added to the decline coupled with the general dirtiness and congestion downtown. What the Minister should do is put a few "secret passengers" on one or more of the cruise ships that dock here and let them report and/or record their experiences when they get off the cruise ship in Nassau. He will be surprised at what he learns. Tourists have to be given a reason to spend their money because they are getting something of value or memorable in returrn. It's expensive to shop in Nassau. What are cruise passengers getting when they disembark in Nassau? From what I've seen hanging around the dock on occasion, I would not get off the ship when it docked in Nassau.


Porcupine 1 year, 1 month ago

Why is this topic a mystery? Clean the place up. Quit robbing the tourists, both legally and illegally. Provide goods and services that they can't get elsewhere. Perhaps instead of businessmen running the show, we need to have people who love to travel at the helm of TOURISM. We missed the boat years ago and have been paying for it ever since. It ain't really that hard. Have a little humility, love for people and pride in where you're from. Be willing to help people without always having your hand out. The money will come. The problem is we Bahamians want the money first. Who can't see this?


SP 1 year, 1 month ago

Tourism Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar stressing visitors need to spend more money in resort is a 180-degree turn from the "Tourism is healthy" smoke and mirror routines of Pillage Loot Plunder Obie Wilchcombe and Foreign National Movement Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who both always asserted that the "numbers" are proof that all is well in Tourism.

The leading cause of low spending in any resort destination is a lack of actual shore excursions and other opportunities for visitors spend on.

Competing resort destinations with similar crime dilemmas, far worst cleanliness issues and further afar are enjoying increases in stopovers and resort spending while the Bahamas consistently decreased decade over decade.





The one common denominator of these destinations increases is their ever improving shore excursion and resort activities which accommodate an increase of tourist spend opportunities.

Unlike Pillage Loot Plunder and Foreign National Movement who were well known to lock Bahamians out of lucrative investments, these countries encouraged local and FDI alike to invest in diversifying their tourism product. The results are obvious.

That being said. PM Sheriff Minnis and tourism Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar need to look at Arawak Cay and determine if this prime state owned asset is being best utilized for the best dollar return for the country.

PM Sheriff Minnis now having control of lands, must take a serious look at which corrupt cartel has secret plans for Arawak Cay!

Arawak Cay's strategic location relative to the cruise port could easily be used to increase tourist spend and make it a no brainer for theme/amusement/water/multi-purpose entertainment park development, instead of an unsightly container port benefiting only a few usual greedy suspects that have exploited the country for decades.

PM Sheriff Minnis only need to "LOOK" at the proposals for investments submitted to Pillage Loot Plunder in 2012-13 to find multiple detailed proposals (with financing) for theme/amusement/water/multi-purpose entertainment park developments for Arawak Cay that would have all but eliminated the problem of low tourism spend in New Providence.

Arawak Cays' use as a theme/amusement/water/multi-purpose entertainment park development remains the most expedient short term route to sustainable, increased, resort spending and deserves serious consideration in the national interest.


Sickened 1 year, 1 month ago

Arawak Cay won't work - the junkanoo groups that use the area for practice will have a hissy fit if the space is used to make the Bahamas better.


Chucky 1 year, 1 month ago

Not only are the major cities dirty, expensive and they have nothing much to offer, but the people suck too.

Wanna fix things for tourists, try giving them something worth doing or seeing or buying, and get rid of the Bahamian's with their Bahamian attitude.

Nothing worse than getting in one of our taxis and having to interact with the low life slimeball.

Disgusting place, people and prices.

I'm Bahamian, but I couldn't and wouldn't recommend this place to anyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


banker 1 year, 1 month ago

We need to diversify the economy and not rely so much on Tourism. There are ideas floating around, but unfortunately the shiny new crop of ministers don't know what they don't know.

If this country wants to move forward, it needs a better plan than fixing was is broke.


Sickened 1 year, 1 month ago

Agreed. We need to create new businesses and a brand new model altogether. We need to stop fixing this beat-up car and look to buy a Tesla.


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