Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
FOLLOWING “record-breaking” results in 2018 of 6.6 million visitor arrivals to The Bahamas, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar reported that tourism numbers are up by 16.9 percent and that the trend is projected to continue throughout 2019.
While in Grand Bahama on Wednesday, Mr D’Aguilar noted that in 2018 almost 500,000 more visitors came to The Bahamas.
According to the minister, foreign air and sea arrivals in 2018 totaled 6.6 million visitors, compared to 6.1 million in 2017. This resulted in an increase of 486,176 more visitors in 2018, he said.
“As a nation, we have been seriously engaged in the tourism business for about six decades. The research has been done, and I can now unequivocally assert that The Bahamas received in 2018 far more visitors than in any year of its entire history of tourism endeavour,” stated Mr D’Aguilar.
The tourism minister noted that the increase in tourism business in 2018 was experienced nationwide in Nassau – Paradise Island, in Grand Bahama, and in the major Family Islands.
He provided the breakdown of the figures in terms of percentage comparison. He stated that foreign air and sea arrivals to the Bahamas were up by 7.9 percent between January to December 2018, compared to the same period of 2017.
He further noted that foreign air arrivals alone were up 16.7 percent between January to December 2018, compared to 2017.
In Nassau/Paradise Island, the minister reported that air arrivals were up in every month of 2018 compared to 2017, and that major hotels in Nassau and Paradise Island recorded a 34 percent increase in room revenues, gains not experienced in the past 10 years.
In Grand Bahama, Mr D’Aguilar said there was a 9.1 percent year over year increase in overall visitor arrivals, and that Family Islands received similar increases collectively recording a 14.9 percent increase in foreign air and sea arrivals.
He attributed the increase in arrivals to dynamic advertising, marketing and promotions by the MOTA, along with major hotels, and other key stakeholders.
“Over the past 18 months we have had several top brand hotels come on stream, namely the full opening of Baha Mar with its signature brands, the Rosewood, the Grand Hyatt and SLS,” the minister said.
Mr D’Aguilar stressed it will take a united effort to sustain the growth in tourism that has been achieved over the past 12 months.
“Let us collectively commit to continuously up our game so that The Bahamas becomes a place those of us call home can have a better, more equitable life, and a greater stake in an industry to which two-thirds of our population gives its labour and energy,” he said.