By Nico Scavella
INTERNATIONAL visitor arrivals to The Bahamas for the month of October have grown over 30 percent compared with the same time last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.
The ministry, in a statement, said after months of “lagging,” international visitor arrivals to The Bahamas grew by 31.9 percent this October compared with last year’s numbers, which the ministry said were “hampered” by Hurricane Matthew.
The growth of bookings in October, the ministry said, has consequently resulted in a “bright booking situation” for November 2017 to January 2018, which it said is ahead by 16.6 percent.
Additionally, the ministry said bookings from “top source markets” such as the United States, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and Germany are ahead more than 15 percent.
Brazil joins the major feeder markets, the ministry added, as the bookings for arrivals between November 2017 and January 2018 grew by over 80 percent.
The press release also said that as a result of a “robust co-op marketing campaign” with Expedia - the largest producer of online bookings for the Bahamas - the country yielded 263,000 air tickets, an increase in 14.7 percent year-over-year and 250,000 room nights, a nine percent increase year-over-year.
The release said the “uptick” in visitor arrivals represent a “significant change in direction” from last year’s numbers, as arrivals at that time would have been ultimately impacted by Hurricane Matthew, a category five storm.
The ministry said as part of its post-hurricane efforts, a Bahamas.com story, directly addressing why consumers should travel to the Bahamas now and what they should know, was promoted across various digital platforms ensuring the ‘open for business’ story was visible in Google searches, Facebook feeds and news sites like CNN.
Once potential visitors are motivated to book, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation’s partnerships with Expedia as well as TripAdvisor converted “that inspiration into sales,” the statement said.
“The Ministry of Tourism has been working very aggressively to promote our destination in the past months in spite of the very serious challenge of hurricanes in our region and across some of our most important international markets,” Ministry of Tourism Director General Joy Jibrilu said.
“We have gone directly to the editors at Travel + Leisure, USA Today and Miami Herald, among others, with post-hurricane updates and new developments for the Bahamas; we have produced informative, online content targeted directly at our key audiences; and driven effective marketing partnerships with Expedia and TripAdvisor,” Ms Jibrilu continued.
“This nimble digital execution is helping us drive change and support our industry partners across the country.”
The aforementioned statistics are the results of the ministry’s utilisation of the “new digital tool” Forward Keys.
Ahead of 2018, the ministry said it plans to continue “harvesting” the aforementioned “crucial data” to help inform “strategy for reaching target audiences with the right messages, and amplifying these messages to continue to attract visitors to the islands of the Bahamas.”
The statement also said it has named Tambourine as its new advertising and digital agency of record. Tambourine will work with the ministry on digital and social media strategy, content marketing and advertising in North and Latin America.