By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The minister of tourism yesterday said an “on point marketing campaign” had driven The Bahamas’ record-breaking tourism performance since the start of 2018.
Dionisio D’Aguilar, addressing the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) National Issues Day seminar, said: “For every cause there is a reaction, and our tourism performance over the past 16 months is as a result of strategic planning and precise execution of an on point marketing campaign.
“In past years we used to market The Bahamas as an umbrella destination; a country of 700 islands. You must admit ‘700’ is a huge number to wrap your head around. As a result of that positioning, The Bahamas became synonymous with Nassau and Paradise Island, and the Out Islands got left in the shadows.
“In recent times, we have shifted our focus to the 16 major island groupings of our archipelago. In marketing, advertising and promotions, we highlight the unique appeal of each of these 16 distinctly different islands, which offer a distinctly different vacation experience. This approach has been successful in bringing to prominence individual islands like Exuma, Abaco, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Bimini, which are making a name for themselves and receiving greater numbers of visitors.”
The Bahamas launched a new marketing campaign, featuring Bahamian-American rock icon, Lenny Kravitz, in February this year in a bid to further cement its brand identity and drive tourist traffic to this destination.
“Our digital marketing team keeps us on the cutting edge, employing algorithms that allow us to spot trends in advance, and make adjustments to our strategy. I am proud to say that The Bahamas leads the Caribbean region in online presence. We are neck and neck with Aruba, vying for the largest share of digital voice,” said Mr D’Aguilar.
“Strategic partnership is critical to success in business. Our partnership with elite organisations has facilitated our destination in hosting a large number of world-class events, which have greatly increased our brand awareness through the media exposure that these events attract. The NBA All-Star Team, PGA and LPGA golf tournaments, Tiger Woods World Hero Challenge, just to name a few.”
Mr D’Aguilar said that through the recently-established Tourism Development Corporation, the Government is actively encouraging and supporting community-based tourism projects, having launched pilot projects in Bain Town and Bimini. There are plans to roll-out similar initiatives in other Family Islands.
“This is now the era of the local entrepreneur, the era where Bahamians with bright ideas can step forward and secure assistance and support in bringing those ideas to market,” he said.
“In 2018, 6.6m visitors came to our shores. That was a 16.7 per cent increase over 2017. A 16.7 per cent increase is a robust increase by any standards. In sheer numbers, 487,000 more visitors came to The Bahamas in 2018 than in 2017.
“Each month in 2018 saw an increase in visitor arrivals as compared to 2017; each month, except for February, and that was due to bad weather when some of the cruise ships had to divert to other routes.”
Mr D’Aguilar added: “We see that the cruise guests comprise the lion’s share of our visitor count — three-quarters of our visitors come by cruise. That number will continue to trend upwards because travel consumers consider a cruise vacation great value for money.
“Given the huge differential in average spend between the two types of visitors, our aim is to enhance the onshore experience of the visitor to such a point that more and more cruise visitors will convert to stopover visitors.”