By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM numbers are looking very promising ahead of spring break, according to Ministry of Tourism deputy director general Dr Kenneth Romer, who cited room capacity as a major challenge because of high hotel occupancy levels.
During the weekly press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, Dr Romer hailed the increasing tourist arrivals as a good sign for The Bahamas and said on this current trend, officials have every reason to believe they will hit its target of a 20 percent growth in the sector.
“We saw over 30 percent in January,” he said. “Those numbers are holding for February and March. We had a situation just the other day where an airline couldn’t find seven rooms for stranded passengers.
“Just Saturday past, we had an air transit admitted … into Nassau (with) 310 passengers and we had hoped to overnight them in Nassau, but we could not find rooms at any of our properties to overnight passengers.
“So, our challenge now is really capacity, but the numbers are going to be holding strong. We do believe that we’re going to hit the 20 percent at the end of this year. We did 30 plus percent in January and February and March numbers, we believe, are going to look the same.”
Last week, Tourism Minister Chester Cooper revealed in his contribution to the mid-year budget debate that nearly one million visitors arrived in The Bahamas in January, representing a 166 percent increase when compared to the same period last year.
“When we look at what is happening in 2023, we are shattering 2022 numbers and 2019 numbers. That’s good news. What is even better news is that we saw nearly one million visitors to The Bahamas in the first month of this year,” said Mr Cooper.
“I’ll repeat that; you may hear me repeat a few things today. In January, we saw nearly one million visitors to The Bahamas. For context, in January of 2023 we saw 846,000 visitors. That number was 300,000 in January 2022. That is a 166 percent increase from January 2022 to January 2023.”
Dr Romer said given the nation’s growing tourism industry, it was important for The Bahamas to redevelop airports throughout the country to attract more international traffic, which would fall in line with the government’s goals to operate airports as “profit centres”.
The government has already put out requests for proposals for the development of some 14 Family Island airports.
These include the New Bight International Airport in Cat Island, Exuma International Airport, Leonard M Thompson International Airport in Abaco, North Eleuthera International Airport, Long Island International Airport, Congo Town airport in South Andros and San Salvador International Airport.
According to Dr Romer, some of these airports will undergo major repairs and will feature brand new control towers and crash and rescue facilities, among other things.
“We do believe that this year, we are going to see shovels in the ground. As a matter of fact, we do forecast going into New Bight Cat Island on the 25th of this morning and putting shovels in the ground,” Dr Romer added.
mandela 2 weeks, 6 days ago
So the challenge is room capacity, but this government seems to be making it harder for the small man as far as a person renting out parts of their homes as Airbnb to help their struggle all while helping with this said room shortage, but no the government would prefer a deep wallet foreigner to build hotels so their (ruling government) pockets can be greased or get some shingles.
SP 2 weeks, 4 days ago
The PLP propaganda machine is in full-swing mode for those ignorant enough to believe what they hear!
Ministry of Tourism deputy director general Dr Kenneth Romer is allowing himself to be used to make stupid statements and lose what little credibility he has left.
Comparing 2019 to 2022 numbers with 2023 without mentioning the pandemic is dishonest and misleading at best.
Secondly, talking about capacity shortages without distinguishing the number of room inventory currently offline i.e. Cable Beach Hilton, Sheraton British Colonial, Freeport Lucaya, Breezes, and numerous small hotels that have also gone under is disingenuous.
The fact is, the Bahamas' tourism product has been backsliding for decades.
Instead of the government doing all it can to encourage growth, they are busy creating red tape and bottlenecks causing difficulties for the vacation home rental sector.
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