Tourism in The Bahamas is booming right now, according to new data from the country’s Ministry of Tourism.
Air and sea arrivals to The Bahamas are up a whopping 515.6 percent this year compared to the same period in 2021, according to tourism officials.
The tourism surge comes as the country’s economy has made “great strides” towards reaching pre-pandemic levels.
And more tourism growth is forecast for 2023.
“We believe we’re tracking slightly behind 2019, but so far so good in the post-covid climate,” Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism Minister Chester Cooper tells Caribbean Journal. “Our proximity [to the US] hasn’t changed.”
Overall, the country is seeing a tourism boom, just two years after the onset of the pandemic.
Indeed, 2019 was a banner year for The Bahamas’ tourism industry, when the country attracted 7.2 million visitors, with around 5 million cruise passengers and two million stopover visitors.
And looking ahead to 2023, The Bahamas is expecting to exceed those levels, he said.
“We want to see a significant increase in the number of stopover visitors,” he said.
That will be driven by a continued increase in hotel room stock, from the expansion and reopening at Sandals Royal Bahamian to the reopening of the Club Med in San Salvador, a new Ritz-Carlton Reserve in South Eleuthera and the return of Grand Bahama’s Grand Lucayan to the destination’s inventory.
But the biggest area of growth could come from Florida, The Bahamas’ biggest — and closest – source market.
Right now, The Bahamas is welcoming around 500,000 stopover visitors each year from Florida.
Cooper says he would like to see that number double.
“We have a renewed focus on Florida,” he said. “We’re attracting around half a million stopovers from Florida each year — but 22 million people live [there]. It’s a 30 minute flight, and we’re very focused on making it even easier to get to The Bahamas.”
It doesn’t hurt that the country has 16 full-fledged island destinations, said Latia Duncombe, acting director general of The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation.
And the plan is to spread that growth across the extent of the archipelago.
The country is undertaking a major investment in infrastructure, including in destinations like Exuma, which is seeing a wave of new development.
More broadly, though, Cooper says the growth will be buoyed by the Bahamian people.
“We want to foster a vibrant future focused on the Bahamian people, culture and heritage, meaningful investments and an eye towards sustainability. There’s no doubt that our culture, people and environment are the essence of our tourism offering, and we must take steps,” he says.
That includes a focus on the Bahamian people, culture and heritage, which Cooper says are the “heartbeat” of the country, with a major boost from the return of cultural events and festivals this year.
“There is a significant amount of pent-up demand, and people do want to travel,” said Latia Duncombe, acting director general of The Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation. “We’re making sure that when they make a decision to travel, The Bahamas is always their destination of choice.”
For more, visit The Bahamas.