Central Bank of the Bahamas.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Total tourist arrivals to New Providence during the 2020 fourth quarter amounted to just 2.7 percent of the prior year’s 1m visitors to further expose COVID-19’s drastic impact on the sector.
The Central Bank’s quarterly review for the last three months of 2020 revealed that The Bahamas attracted just 54,728 total visitors compared to the prior year’s 1.8m - a development that comes as little surprise, given that there were no cruise ship arrivals while land-based stopover tourism only re-opened in November.
With an entire month of the fourth quarter lost, the Central Bank said: “Globally imposed travel restrictions unfavourably affected both air and sea traffic. A breakdown by category showed that sea passengers totalled 7,945, vis-à-vis a 10.9 percent increase to 1.5m in the previous year.
“Further, the air component amounted to 46,783 following a 9.9 percent decrease to 320,299 a year earlier that was induced by Hurricane Dorian. An analysis by major ports of entry revealed that total arrivals to New Providence amounted to just 26,568, compared to a 3.4 percent decline to 1m in the previous year. Air and sea traffic totalled only 24,341 and 2,227, respectively.
“Likewise, visitor arrivals to the Family Islands reached just 25,211, following a 41 percent expansion to 0.7m in 2019, with air arrivals decreasing to 20,315 and sea passengers to 4,896. Further, arrivals to Grand Bahama declined to 2,949, deepening from the 49.4 percent contraction to 63,234 in the preceding year, explained by a fall-off in both air and sea visitors to 2,127 and 822, respectively.”
As for other tourism industry segments, the Central Bank added: “In the private vacation rental market similar trends were observed, as data provided by AirDNA showed a fall-off in the demand for resort business during the final quarter of 2020.
“Specifically, total room nights booked reduced sharply by 48.3 percent, vis-à-vis the same period in 2019, owing to respective decreases of 50.2 percent and 48 percent, in hotel comparable and entire place listings.
“An analysis of listing category revealed that hotel comparable average occupancy levels fell by 12.6 percentage points to 31.1 percent, while the average daily rate (ADR) rose by 2.5 percent to $156.52. In addition, average occupancy levels for entire place listings were lower by 8.9 percentage points at 30.8 percent, as the ADR firmed by 10.3 percentage points to $431.50.”
The report continued: “With the re-opening of the borders to international travel, data provided by the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) indicated that total departures - net of domestic passengers - amounted to 35,611, following a 4.6 percent gain to 0.3m in 2019.
“In particular, US departures reduced to just 27,438, relative to a 5.1 percent growth last year to 0.3 million. Similarly, non-US international departures only amounted to 8,173, vis-à- vis a 1.8 percent uptick to 51,476 a year earlier.”