Arrivals down 14% - but it could be worse

Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.


Deputy Chief Reporter


VISITOR arrivals were down 14 percent in September highlighting Hurricane Dorian’s immediate affect on The Bahamas’ tourism industry.

According to Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar yesterday this was “significant”, but officials thought it would have been a lot worse.

Earlier this month, Mr D’Aguilar told reporters his ministry was predicting a nine percent fall off in visitor arrivals this year as a result of Dorian’s destruction in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Meanwhile, the government has missed its self-imposed deadline of last week for the Leonard M Thompson International Airport in Abaco to start accepting international flights. As it stands, there is no new deadline for these flights to commence, the minister told reporters.

“The numbers are in for September,” he told reporters outside Cabinet yesterday. “The number of foreign visitors coming into the Bahamas declined by 14 percent so that was significant, so we all know what happened in September.

“We thought it was going to be a lot worse, so we’re pleased that it wasn’t as bad as that and so we are as diligently as possible attempting to get the word out that the Bahamas is open for business.

“What we found in other storms is that as the memory of the hurricane fades from the listening public, especially in the United States, it becomes easier and easier to engage them about making a vacation to the Bahamas, so we’re kind of delighted that it’s not in the news as much any more because people are now thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas and beginning to re-engage in thinking about a holiday in the Bahamas.

“So, as I’ve said, first quarter of next year we expect to return to what it was.”

He said hotels were offering special promotions to encourage tourist visits and a media trip to Canada was planned to remind the Canadian market that the Bahamas remained open for business.

Regarding Abaco’s airport, Mr D’Aguilar said the situation came down to replacing 21,000 linear feet of fencing around its perimeter.

He said: “The specific date is still being worked out. Obviously what we’re trying to do is to get the airport into a position where it is secure.

“The problem with the airport was that there are 21,000 linear feet of fencing around that airport and it was blown down and destroyed and it is very, very important for an airport to be secure for a number of reasons.

“Of course the Americans want it to be secure in order for flights to go to and from the United States and so we are working diligently to source that amount of fencing to involve as many Abaco firms as we can to get it up and running so that’s really the one last hurdle to do.

“A specific date, I don’t know.”

Last week, a small group of security officers from the airport walked off the job, angered by the conditions there and what they believed was lack of government support.

These issues, Mr D’Aguilar said, have been virtually resolved. “I have been advised rather the security personnel were a little upset about the working conditions and they were a little confused about whether they were going to get the money that the government had provided public officers.

“Unbeknownst to them in the background it was all being resolved so they have now been informed about it.

“I always want to say that it’s a difficult work environment down at the Leonard Thompson Airport primarily because it doesn’t have primary power and it doesn’t have Internet.

“As you can imagine the back up power is not designed to be primary power and they’ve had break downs in the generator, which have now been resolved. So it did get a bit uncomfortable in there working conditions-wise, but it’s the biggest hurricane in the history of Abaco so it’s been difficult to resolve.”


TheMadHatter 3 years, 7 months ago

I was born in the Bahamas; but it could be worse.


Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 7 months ago


A single case of Ebola in the Bahamas would be enough to kill what remains of our tourism industry in the wake of Dorian. But neither Minnis nor Sands (both medical doctors) are able to identify the specific tangible steps that have been taken by government to protect the Bahamas from an outbreak of Ebola. World health authorities have failed to contain a major outbreak of this deadly virus to the Republic of Congo and it has now spread to several neighbouring and nearby countries on the African continent.

The landing rights of all flights from countries known to be suffering from an Ebola outbreak should have been long ago suspended, as well as all flights from other countries now considered to be at the greatest risk of an outbreak developing anytime soon. Why hasn't D'Aguilar, as Minister of Tourism with responsibility for Aviation, made a public announcement revealing those countries that the Bahamas will not accept commercial and private flights from? Also, what about sea vessels from any of those same countries. And why haven't immigration and customs officials at all of our air and sea ports of entry to the Bahamas been equipped with portable (hand held) devices capable of detecting even a mild fever an incoming traveller may have?

God forbid we find our Minnis-led FNM government is no better prepared to deal with an outbreak of Ebola in the Bahamas than they were to deal with the recent major hurricane. And is our government aware that there is considerable indirect air traffic between Haiti and various countries in Africa that greatly increases the risk of an Ebola outbreak in Haiti that could all too easily spread to the Bahamas?


ThisIsOurs 3 years, 7 months ago

What you expect them to do? "we've never had Ebola before". It will be a learning experience, we'll plan after for the next outbreak


BahamaPundit 3 years, 7 months ago

The World is now aware of the thin ice this country scates upon. There is no real plan for emergencies caused by crime, immigration or natural disasters from global warming. There are no real savings to fall back upon, should tourism fall. There isn't a single Bahamian owned helicopter to evacuate our people. This country is unsafe! Is it any wonder that tourists are now hesitant to travel here?


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