Already one of the most popular warm-weather destinations, the Bahamas is experiencing booming tourism growth on land and sea in 2019, according to a June Central Bank Bahamas report. The territory’s visitor arrivals grew by 13.2 percent in the first six months of the year, outpacing the 3.1 percent increase recorded during the same period in 2018.
Accordingly, the Bahamas’ air arrivals increased strongly—by 17.5 percent—within the same time frame, surpassing the already impressive 15.0 percent growth achieved in 2018. The territory’s cruise passenger arrivals also increased significantly during the first half of the year, growing by 11.8 percent to reverse a 0.2 percent decline generated during the same period in 2018.
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Meanwhile, foreign departures at Nassau’s Lynden Pindling Airport expanded by 19.4 percent year-over-year in the first half of 2019, compared with a 12.4 percent increase in 2018. U.S. departures grew by 21.1 percent during the same period, following an 11.6 percent increase rise in 2018. Non-US departures increased by 10.0 percent in the first six months of 2019 compared with a 17.2 percent increase one year earlier.
The report predicted, “continued growth in the tourism sector, amid the improvement in the high value-added [overnight] segment.” The Bahamas’ rebounding land-based visitor numbers come as the territory has approved several projects to establish new cruise line private islands and other developments.
The July report also reveals cruise operator Carnival Corp. has received approval for an $80 million plan to expand Half Moon Cay, the company’s private Bahamian island. Carnival will add an existing beach entertainment facility and also build a cruise pier and new landside facilities.
The report also noted there are 4,806 total active Airbnb listings in the Bahamas, with “entire place” occupancy averaging 51.9 percent and “hotel comparable” accommodations at 48.2 percent.
The Bahamas government is aiming to generate increased revenue via “enforcement of VAT on vacation rental transactions (including AirBnb and other sharing economy providers) and an increase in private cruise permit fees, the report states.
Finally, while the Bahamas’ arrival numbers are positive on land and sea, the report cautions, “Potential exists for hurricanes to disrupt travel plans and damage infrastructure.”