NASSAU — The Bahamas has achieved its highest number of international arrivals ever, thanks in part to a boost in lift from source markets including Canada. The strong numbers have resulted in record hotel occupancy levels.
According to The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation’s data partner, ForwardKeys, which tracks inbound visitor data 365 days in advance, international arrivals to The Bahamas grew by 15% in January 2019 versus the same month in 2018, with several key markets registering double-digit growth. February was also strong for the destination, with an 11.1% year-over-year increase in international arrivals.
The forward booking situation for the next three months (March to May) is “optimistic”, says the Ministry, with forward bookings running 9.0% ahead for international arrivals. April, ahead by 15.6%, shows the most favourable outlook.
Air capacity grew by 20.0% in January year-over-year, with a solid seat growth from international markets like the United States (+23.9%) and Canada (+12.7%). The USA and Canada will continue to lead capacity growth in the next three months. The growth trend continues, as international air capacity grew by nearly 21% year-over-year in February.
Last year also saw record-breaking numbers for cruise ship and stopover arrivals. By the end of 2018, foreign air and sea arrivals had totaled more than 6.6 million visitors, up from the 6.1 million recorded in 2017. Stopover visitors alone had increased 16.7% in 2018, as compared to 2017, and Freeport saw a surge of sea visitors by 49%.
The Nassau and Paradise Island hotel industry reported a spike in average daily room rates and revenue per available room in 2018 compared to 2017. The year ended with room revenues up 34%, gains not seen in the past 10 years.
“It is my great pride and pleasure to report that The Bahamas is experiencing its strongest tourism numbers ever on record,” said Bahamas Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar. “We look forward to building upon the success of our progressive plans and continuing the momentum in 2019 as we forge ahead with exciting new initiatives.”
Coming off this record-breaking year, The Bahamas kicked off 2019 with the launch of a brand new campaign in partnership with rock legend and Bahamian-American Lenny Kravitz. Set to the lyrics of Kravitz’s hit song ‘Fly Away’, the television commercial and supporting marketing campaign captures his deep personal connection to the island as well as encourages travellers to ‘fly away’ to The Bahamas.
In addition to the new campaign, the Ministry is also preparing for the development of a new cruise port in Nassau.