‘Country will surpass last year’s visitors as arrivals up 12 percent’


Tribune Chief Reporter


TOURISM numbers remain on the upward swing, with visitor arrivals up 12 percent this year compared to the same period in 2023, according to Tourism Minister Chester Cooper.

He said the country welcomed nearly four million visitors in four months, adding that if this trend continues, The Bahamas will surpass last year’s tourism numbers and mark another record-breaking year.

“From January to April 2024, we have seen a significant increase in foreign air and sea arrivals, marking a 12.4 per cent rise compared to the same period in the record-setting 2023,” he said during the debate in the House Assembly yesterday.

“Simply put, that translates to almost four million visitors in four months.”

“If this average holds, and we hope it does, a million a month will result in a 20 per cent increase year over year or 12 million overall arrivals by year-end.”

He said the growth not only demonstrates the country’s resilience, but also underscores the “enduring allure of The Bahamas as a premier travel destination.”

Hailing “our diverse islands” as a major contributor “to our stellar performance,” Mr Cooper highlighted growth in Grand Bahama, Abaco and Eleuthera.

He said each island saw increases in arrivals of 6.8 per cent, 3.8 per cent, and 3 per cent, respectively, while the Berry Islands saw “an impressive 13.3 per cent rise in arrivals.”

New Providence remains by far the most popular destination, with 1.8m visitors welcomed between January to April, a 13.2 per cent increase compared to last year. 

Regarding cruise tourism, Mr Cooper said there were 3.2 million cruise arrivals in the same period, a 15 per cent increase compared to 2023. 

“This surge speaks to the strong partnerships we have forged with major cruise lines and the appeal of our ports of call,” he said.

He said stopover visitors have also shown a strong preference for extended stays, noting the average length of stay for stopover visitors was six nights as of April.

He said visitors from Africa had the longest stays.

“I hear my colleagues talking about this magnificent, I believe it was a 787 that came in this week for the Ethiopian Airlines,” Mr Cooper said.

He said officials would use the relationships they are building to encourage a direct service from The Bahamas to Africa.

Still, Mr Cooper said he remains concerned that the country lacks sufficient room to meet the growing demand.

“In fact, we need to double inventory with another 15,000 rooms over the next ten years to continue to attract high-value guests and maintain our position as the undisputed tourism leader in the Caribbean,” he said.

Regarding the government’s downtown revitalisation project, Mr Cooper said nine abandoned buildings have been demolished, with three more targeted for demolition “in the short term.”

“This summer, we will expedite the projects on green spaces and we expect Tin Ferl to begin this summer,” he added.

Log in to comment