Bahamas Crosses 5 Million Tourist Arrivals Mark
By Chester Robards
Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas — The Bahamas has crossed the five million mark for visitor arrivals in 2010, up almost 15 percent over 2009, according to Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, though he warned that the tourism industry is “not out of the woods yet.”
The Ministry of Tourism set about finding that five millionth visitor recently, narrowing down 12 people who came into several different ports of entry across the country, and pulled just one person’s name from a hat.
That person, Randy Holmes of Vancouver, Canada, won an all expense paid vacation to anywhere in The Bahamas next year.
This was only the second time The Bahamas has crossed over the five million mark for visitor arrivals and it is expected that by the end of the year, arrivals would have hit a record number.
“We expect by the end of this year that we will be considerably beyond the number we had the first time around,” said Vanderpool-Wallace.
“Most of that growth has come in the cruise sector as opposed to stopover visitors.”
According to him, stopover visitor numbers grew year-on-year by only 4.5 percent.
Vanderpool-Wallace asserted that the tourism industry, though recovering slowly, has to see the stopover visitor numbers increase, as those visitors leave more money in the country than cruise passengers.
“We all know and always remember that when we focus on tourism as an economic development tool that we want those high spending stopover visitors,” he said.
He added that the public/private sector sponsored companion airfare promotion was a huge driver of the increase in numbers of stopover visitors this year.
“We have exceeded the number of stopover visitors year over year,” said Vanderpool-Wallace.
“A substantial part of the reason for that is a fairly unique program we put together called companion fly free.
“(The) strategy is to lower the cost of access in The Bahamas to make it less expensive and that’s all companion fly free is.”
According to him, The Bahamas has sold more than 250,000 room nights because of the companion fly free promotion.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian http://www.thenassauguardian.com/