By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
Grand Bahama continues to see a strong rebound in tourism numbers, according to a tourism official who reports that total arrivals on the island were over 100,000 at the end of the first quarter of 2023.
Nuvolari Chotoosingh, manager of maritime at the Ministry of Tourism, Aviation, and Investments, said air arrivals were around 15,500, while cruise arrivals were at 120,000 at the end of March.
“We are just about four percent down from 2019,” he reported this week during a Press Briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in Freeport.
“We continue to see our numbers improve in cruise and airlift (arrivals). It is encouraging and we are looking for more increases as the year rolls on.”
The Ministry of Tourism plans to attract more airlifts to Grand Bahama, particularly from the US and South American markets.
According to Mr Chotoosingh, marketing missions will be taking place later in the year to California, and South America, including Peru and Colombia.
He noted that Bahamasair recently commenced new services late last year into Raleigh, North Carolina, to Grand Bahama and New Providence. The airline has also launched services in Dallas and Austin, Texas.
The tourism official added that they will also be negotiating with West Jet Airlines, following its recent purchase of Canadian carrier Sunwing Airlines which operated two direct flights from Toronto and Montreal to Grand Bahama.
The service brought 400 visitors weekly to the island.
“We have a very good relationship with West Jet. Once we can solidify negotiations with West Jet, I hope to see a good number (again) coming from Canada,” Mr Chotoosingh said.
It is hoped that the announced opening of Breaker’s Cay at the Grand Lucayan will help to attract more airlifts to the island.
Mr Chotoosingh stated it will provide additional rooms in Grand Bahama.
“So, that is something that we look forward to happening in the very future,” he said. There is some ongoing work there right now at the Prop Club that will be used to (accommodate) day trippers looking for another beach experience.”
The Prop Club beach experience, he said, is right across from Port Lucaya Marketplace, which would benefit from the volume of people who can walk over to get something to eat, drink and shop in the stores.
In terms of new investments, Mr Chotoosingh indicated that the Carnival Cruise port is continuing its project. The dredging at Sharp Rock has been completed.
He said the island is also experiencing medical tourism with the opening of the Western Atlantic University School of Medicine from the United States.
The recently acquired Running Mon Marina and Resort by Xquisite Yachts is another area with great potential.
The company - which manufactures Catamaran yachts - is pumping several million dollars into redeveloping the marina.
Mr Chotoosingh said their clients who purchase these $300,000 yachts can cruise to Grand Bahama for maintenace or refurbishment of their vessels, and stay at the property and enjoy the island.