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Air arrivals hit 85% of pre-COVID levels

The Lynden Pindling International Airport. (File photo)

The Lynden Pindling International Airport. (File photo)

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Total air arrivals to The Bahamas rebounded to 85 percent of pre-COVID numbers during April, more than doubling prior year numbers for a period that included the peak Easter holiday weekend.

The Central Bank’s monthly economic report for May, released yesterday, affirmed that The Bahamas continues to make measured, steady progress in tourism’s recovery to pre-pandemic levels as March numbers were around 81 percent of 2019 figures. The April data suggests that the country’s number one industry is thus continuing to narrow the gap.

Aided by the easing of COVID restrictions in both The Bahamas and abroad, including lockdowns and border restrictions, total air arrivals for April 2022 surged by 142.2 percent compared to the prior year. Rising vaccination rates will also have contributed to improved traveller confidence.

“Official data provided by the Ministry of Tourism showed that total visitor arrivals by first port of entry advanced to 586,574 in April, compared to 68,791 visitors in the comparative period of 2021. Leading this outturn, air traffic increased to 145,471, from just 60,305 in the prior year, restoring 85 percent of the volumes recorded in 2019. In addition, sea passengers grew to 441,103, from 8,486 visitors in the previous year, when voyages were suspended,” the Central Bank said.

“A breakdown by major port of entry revealed that arrivals to New Providence recovered to 293,182 in April from a modest 41,358 in the corresponding period of 2021. Contributing to this development, air traffic reached 109,880, while sea passengers totalled 183,302. Likewise, foreign arrivals to Grand Bahama amounted to 29,782 vis-à-vis 2,690 a year earlier, with the air and sea components comprising 4,459 and 25,323, respectively.

“Further, visitors to the Family Islands recovered to 263,610 from 24,743 in the prior year, as the air and sea segments rose to 31,132 and 232,478, respectively.” Cruise passenger numbers, in particular, were up against exceptionally weak prior year comparatives as the industry did not resume sailing until summer 2021.

Turning to vacation rentals, the Central Bank said: “Data provided by AirDNA mirrored these positive trends. In particular, during the month of May, total room nights sold advanced to 136,311 from 98,387 in the comparative 2021 period.

“Underlying this outturn, occupancy rates for both entire place and hotel comparable listings firmed to 54.7 percent and 51.7 percent, respectively, from 51.9 percent and 48.6 percent a year earlier. Further, price indicators showed that year-over-year, the average daily room rate (ADR) for entire place appreciated by 5.6 percent to $518.75, and hotel comparable listings by 8.6 percent to $192.69.”

As for the tourism arrivals performance for the first four months of 2022, the Central Bank report added: “On a year-to-date basis, total arrivals rebounded to 1.933m compared to 184,685 in the corresponding 2021 period, when a decline of 89.1 percent was registered.

“Underlying this outturn, the air segment rose to 466,896 passengers, a reversal from a 53.1 percent contraction in the preceding year, reflecting a rise in traffic to all major markets. Similarly, sea arrivals increased to 1.466m visitors, following a decrease of 98.4 percent in 2021.

“The most recent data provided by the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) indicated that for the month of May, total departures - net of domestic passengers - rose to 112,493 from 55,662 in the same month of 2021. In particular, US departures expanded to 94,467 from 54,362 in the prior year, while non-US departures amounted to 18,026, vis-à-vis 1,300 in the previous year,” the report continued.

“On a year-to-date basis, total outbound traffic nearly tripled to 512,640, from 174,680 passengers in the preceding year, when a 53 percent contraction occurred. Supporting this outturn, US departures recovered to 436,672 visitors, a reversal from the 46.3 percent fall-off in 2021. Correspondingly, non-US departures grew to 75,968, a shift from the 87 percent reduction in the corresponding period last year.”

With inflation set to remain elevated, the Central Bank added: “Expectations are that the domestic economy will maintain its recovery trajectory in 2022, with further strengthening supported by ongoing improvements in tourism sector output. Nonetheless, risks to the industry persist, as emerging strains of the COVID-19 virus could potentially undermine the progress made on the international health front and disrupt travel sector activity.

“In addition, the rise in global fuel prices could weaken the travel industry’s competitiveness, while the major central banks’ counter-inflation policies could diminish the travel spending capacity of key source market consumers. However, new and ongoing foreign investment-led projects, combined with post-hurricane rebuilding works, are anticipated to provide impetus via the construction sector, and by extension economic growth.”

Comments

DWW 1 year, 10 months ago

june and july will beat 2019 but head in the sand leaders don't want to see it. I travelled through LPIA a week ago and every single seat every single plane had standby passengers. total clustermess, i would not advise travelling the US right now, or anywhere unless you have oodles of time and patience to spare. LPIA put 3 large full planes on 1 baggage carousel which got backed up and the first time I have seen the emergency stop get triggered from too many bags. the idiots did not clear out the bags, they just overrode the safety switch restarted and jammed more bags on the already overfull belt. meanwhile the 3 other belts were not used. terrible planning and management all around. at least the touri were so happy to be out of their house they didn't mind the 2 hour wait for immigration - that hall was standing room only at 2pm and only half the contingent of officers in booths.

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