By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Ministry of Tourism was yesterday said to have activated its "crisis monitoring" as it braces for more international fall-out following the report into the causes of the 4C's boating tragedy.
Ellison "Tommy" Thompson, the Ministry's deputy director general, told the Exuma Business Outlook conference that, to-date, much of the coverage surrounding the incident has been local.
"The 4 Cs boating accident in June hit more closely to home and required aggressive crisis management and a forward looking plan," Mr Thompson said.
This was followed by a critical Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) report into the Four C's Adventure boat explosion and fire, which found that the company broke the law by operating a boat that was neither registered nor inspected by the Port Department. An American woman was killed and several others injured in the incident.
"Following the results of the investigation we have initiated crisis monitoring, and coverage remains local at this time. However, we anticipate additional rounds of media coverage once the results reach the victims and, inevitably, the media," Mr Thompson said.
"The past year has presented issues for The Exumas, and islands across The Bahamas and the region. Last fall, Hurricanes Irma and Maria left traveller uncertainty, not damage, in its wake, calling for swift crisis communications plans to let travellers know that the islands were open for business."
He added: "Last year was without a doubt a historic hurricane season for the region, but while rebuilding continues we are bullish on the future of our region. Tourism business in The Bahamas is quite good. The trend in international arrivals turned around in October 2017, and has been consistently positive since then."
Mr Thompson said that, for 2018 to-date, The Bahamas has seen solid stopover arrival growth, with the US, its leading source market, producing an increase in stopover visitors of 6.5 percent. Forward bookings to the end of the year are up 9.2 percent.
He added that air and sea arrivals data shows that Exuma received 42,448 visitors between January and July this year, compared to 42,667 visitors during the same period last year. Overall, The Bahamas has received just over four million visitors compared to 3.8 million for the same period last year.
Mr Thompson said the Grand Isle resort was set next month to complete a $5m fine dining/multi-purpose restaurant with, complementing infinity pool and private gazebos.
He added that it was "not a matter of if but when" Sandals will expand in the Exumas, although these plans will be challenged without additional airport capacity.