Representatives from The Bahamas wrapped up a cross-Canada road show in Toronto yesterday (Nov. 21) actively spreading the word that the archipelago is open for business.
“It’s important because tourism is the cornerstone to our economy and we have been in the press a lot lately and all because of Hurricane Dorian,” said Joy Jibrilu, director general of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, who pointed out that 15 of its key 16 islands are ready and eager to welcome travellers.
In fact, Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism and Aviation for The Government of The Bahamas noted that Hurricane Dorian only struck its two northern-most islands and it’s important to tell the story that The Bahamas is still standing.
“When you look at a map of The Bahamas you quickly discover that The Bahamas is a group of islands that spans almost 1,000 km. Hurricane Dorian only struck our two northern-most islands, Abaco and Freeport. Thankfully it left the rest of the country completely unscathed, untouched, and not in any way impacted by the storm,” he said. “The important message I’d like to convey here is that almost 90% of The Bahamas’ tourism infrastructure was completely unaffected by Hurricane Dorian and as a result, The Bahamas is still ready to welcome visitors.”
Compared to other destinations in The Caribbean, he said one of the attributes that sets it apart is that it’s made up of 700 islands and 2,500 cays, attracting almost 7 million visitors each year.
“The Bahamas is one of the most tourism dependent countries in the world, well over 50% of our GDP is derived from the tourism industry and 2/3 Bahamians is employed by the tourism sector,” he said. “Up until Dorian’s arrival, an incredible momentum was being maintained. Stop over arrivals for the first eight months up to Aug. 31 were up another 13% with visitor arrivals from Canada up another 10% and forward bookings were looking strong complemented by a 7% increase in air capacity from Canada. With the arrival of Hurricane Dorian, arrivals from Canada declined by 15% in September and are projected to be down another 5% in October. So my reason for being here is to seek your assistance in reversing that decline and recognizing that it’s not business as usual in The Bahamas, that will be years away, but the tourism business goes on and it’s crucial as we go forward.”
Fred Lounsberry, Chief Executive Officer for the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, was also on hand to provide updates on the destination, which was untouched by the hurricane but was still impacted by a drop in bookings. However, he noted that trends are now looking “very positive.”
Slated to come online in June 2020 is a $250 million Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville resort, which will mark the brand’s first property in Nassau.
Another way for travellers to experience the destination is by booking a two-day cruise from Palm Beach, Florida with Bahamas Cruise Line, which is now offering the option of adding hotel nights in The Bahamas in two-night instalments.
“We’re in great shape,” said Lounsberry. “The best way to help The Bahamas is to visit.”
For more on Nassau Paradise Island, check out our recent cover story here.
For more on The Bahamas’ new campaign with Lenny Kravitz, check out our coverage here.