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Pm: 20% Hotel Vacancy Cut To Hit Jobless Goal

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The prime minister yesterday argued his six percent unemployment rate goal can be achieved by increasing average occupancy rates at existing Bahamian hotels by 20 percentage points.

Dr Hubert Minnis, telling the House of Assembly that his ambitious jobless rate reduction target can be achieved “without building one more room in The Bahamas”, said growing average occupancies from 65 percent to 85 percent would inject a further $657m in visitor spending into the economy.

He added that rather than seek new resort investments The Bahamas has to maximise the existing yields from its current 18,000 hotel rooms which, at an annual average occupancy of 65 percent, means some 6,300 are sitting vacant every night.

Hitting back at those who have voiced doubts that he will achieve his target jobless rate, Dr Minnis said: “We need to remind the sceptics that, not so long ago, properties on Paradise Island with more than 1,000 rooms regularly ran occupancies of 85 percent year round. Those sceptics also need to digest the fact that cruise ships arrive in the port of Nassau with near 100 percent occupancies.

“We must focus even more to make the adjustments to move the occupancy needle beyond 65 percent.” The prime minister added that increasing the average Bahamian resort occupancy rate to 85 percent would mean an extra 3,600 hotel rooms per night are filled.

“That is equivalent to filling a property one-and-a-half times the size of Baha Mar every night,” he said. “An additional 3,600 rooms occupied every night at double occupancy would mean an additional 438,000 annual stopover visitors with an average length of stay of six nights.”

“With each visitor spending the average $1,500 per visit, moving occupancies from 65 percent to 85 percent would mean an additional $657m in incremental visitor expenditure in the Bahamas. When we look at the data showing the number of direct, indirect and induced jobs that would be created by such an outcome, the 6 percent level of unemployment is achievable from tourism sector expansion alone.”

The 6 percent jobless rate targeted by Dr Minnis would represent a 21st century low for The Bahamas. Zhivargo Laing, former minister of state for finance in the Hubert Ingraham administration, told Tribune Business that while possible, achieving the Prime Minister’s goal will be “highly improbable”.

“You have to have substantial investments take place. I’m talking about substantial investments,” he added. “You are creating thousands of jobs over the next 18 months, and then those jobs can’t merely be construction jobs. You can have a project take place, and a construction team in place for six months, seven months, eight months, and the job can come to an end.”

Meanwhile, Dr Minnis said two Florida-based fixed base operators (FBOs) where The Bahamas will establish pre-clearance facilities for private pilots are expecting a 15-20 percent increase in traffic to this nation as a result.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 2 weeks ago

There's just no end to the shiite that pours out of Minnis's mouth.

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This man don't have the sense God gave a shoe....

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ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

there are so many questions that should be asked. I wonder if he hides these incites from his speech writers and just surprises everybody. Aren't hotel workers complaining now that they on 2 and 3 days? so one would assume if occupancy rates increased the existing staff would just move to full time hours. and tgats just the furst issue...

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Good luck filling hotels with the Corona Virus pandemic. Zero creativity.

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TalRussell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Obviously, the colony's comrade prime minister when not traveling abroad without credit card - otherwise has been too busy organising his red party's pre general election campaign propaganda (lies) affairs to have heeded news that the entire USA is about shut up business shop in an attempt to respond uncertainty corona virus? We need a PM on guard to more protect the borders colony - not so much swoop law abiding Haitians off the streets - but from the corona virus reaching Populacesordinary!

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The Bahamas needs to prepare for the Corona Virus Now!!!

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TalRussell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Comrade, I've been preaching same message to health minister Dr. Duane and his health officials for likes past 14 days - the same minister - having great difficulties executing simple task bury but 30 bodies to their graves - deceased from September 1, 2019's Hurricane Dorian. I said, man's struggling task to bury but 30 dead bodies!

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 1 week ago

The Bahamas needs to prepare its hospitals for a massive influx of patients. It also needs to plan in case tourism is shut down by the Corona Virus - - the virus could ground plane and cruise travel and close hotels as virus hotspots. Most importantly, Bahamians should prep by stocking food and water. The Corona Virus should be treated by The Bahamas like a category 5 hurricane that could hit the country at any time.

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tom1912 1 month, 1 week ago

Hotels and/or Self catering accommodation tariffs are linked to power prices and food costs amongst other things. One way of increasing occupancy is having 0% rated VAT on all food stuffs an essential household supplies along with having reliable power supply and at reasonable costs.[ It also helps to tame pressure on wages and wage rises] Never mind the tourist hiring cars having to about damaged not covered by CDW driving over the many mini bomb craters in the majority of the main roads. It also goes without saying an increase in crime is not conducive to increasing tourist foot falls, The Bahamas has so much potential as a hoilday destination but far too expensive for average world wide travellers as most good businessmen know that turnover is the key, a few high rollers are not enough to keep a tourist industry viberant, Cruise passengers tend not to spend much money outside the ship, The high rollers tend to stick in the environs of their hotels or their hoilday homes/gated communities. I don't think the Bahamas can rely on the spring influx of drunken US youth to increase the hotel occupancy that's for sure!

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Porcupine 1 month, 1 week ago

The Bahamian people must see that this guy is not fit to manage a fast food restaurant, let alone a small country. Right? Or has this PLP and FNM stuff stolen the minds of most?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 1 week ago

You have to question how on earth did he ever become a medical doctor.....was it by his wrongful receipt of some kind of patronage from a rinky dink medical school?! This is not a man capable of mastering even the basics of a pre-med bio-chemistry course at a below average ranked university with a medical school. Did his children go to the same (his) medical school? LMAO

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John 1 month, 1 week ago

If a 20% increase in hotel occupancy can cut unemployment to six percent, then why is time being wasted? A further 20 percent increase in hotel rooms would cut unemployment close to zero. O, if only economics was that simple. But with world markets crashing and travelers in mass panic over Corona, Minnis may not be able to prove his Economics any time soon. But maybe he can ask Bamsi to increase its food production for emergency purposes and food security. Maybe government needs to identify a quarantine space and health care workers in the event there is an outbreak of Corona here and the necessary medical supplies. And, unfortunately, for Minnis and the economy,even after The Corona virus is brought under control, there will be a lag of a year or two before the tourist market returns to normal. Just around election time or after. So Minnis needs to seek a plan less reliant on tourism or external forces.

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Bahamianbychoice 1 month, 1 week ago

Very good points regarding the coronavirus and its impact on tourism especially if the WHO declares it a pandemic! The effects on the economy with tourism and the potential demand on the already struggling medical system...

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