Bahamas updates entry requirements, announces additional testing for visitors

More lift means record number of Canadians heading to The Bahamas

NASSAU — For the first time in 10 years arrivals into the biggest airport in The Bahamas have surpassed pre-recession travel levels and much of the growth is being fuelled by the Canadian market.

Some 151,454 passengers landed at Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport in December 2017, and another 140,314 in January 2018, the largest numbers since the pre-recession holidays of 2007/2008.

December’s increase was the highest in a single month, up nearly 15,000 over the second-best year a decade earlier. Preliminary results for March show a year-over-year increase of 24%.

Several factors are credited for the spike, including an increase in airlift, the return of Sunwing Airlines, the strengthening of the Canadian dollar and a brutally cold winter in the U.S. northeast and Canada.

Tourism officials also credit a marketing and promotional ramp-up by Ministry of Tourism and destination partners, especially in Canada and specific markets in the U.S. and U.K.

“Canada is driving growth in international arrivals all on its own,” said Jan Knowles, VP, Marketing and Commercial Development.

Canada has led the impact on the higher numbers with both WestJet and Air Canada seeing significant growth in their passenger numbers this season and capacity on flights averaging 89%, says Knowles.

The bitter cold and a change in flight times help account for the Canadian boost.

The so-called Baha Mar factor is yet to be quantified but officials report that nearly every U.S. airline has added seats in anticipation of increased demand driven by marketing of the new luxury resort and casino.

The much-delayed US$4.2 billion beachfront Baha Mar opened its doors in April 2017 with the debut of the Grand Hyatt Baha.

In late 2016, almost exactly two years after its planned launch date, Baha Mar Resort was sold to Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited (CTFE) for a reported US$3.5 billion. Baha Mar was initially scheduled to open in December 2014.

The SLS Baha Mar hotel is the latest opening at Baha Mar, making its debut in November 2017.

Overall, a 15% increase is projected in non-U.S. international seat capacity through June 2018.

More than 3.3 million passengers pass through LPIA every year with the airport serving 55 destinations via 24 airlines.

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