Tourism plays a vital role in the Bahamas’ economy. The good news is that tourism continues to perform well in 2019. Total air departures and vacation rentals are both up compared to this time last year. This is great news, especially since many were worried that the recent travel notice the US placed on the Bahamas due to increased crime and poorly regulated boat tours would impact tourism.
The Central Bank of the Bahamas recently unveiling its economic development report for the month, which revealed that total air departures had increased. Departures from Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau were up by 22.1% for foreign and non-resident travelers.
The Central Bank found that, “More recent developments for January 2019 from the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), revealed that total departures through the main airport – net of domestic passengers -firmed by 22.1 percent, outstripping the eight percent increase a year earlier.”
The US departures, in particular, were up by 24.5%. Fears over the recent travel advisory issued by the US impacting tourism to the Bahamas appear to be unfounded for now. Non-US international departures also increased by 11.1%
In addition to increased total air departures, data from AirDNA, which analyzes data from Airbnb bookings, found that there was a 37% increased in total bookings. Vacation home rentals were up by 35%, while private room rentals were up by 45%.
The increased popularity of short-term vacation bookings over traditional hotels has resulted in a 1.7% decreased in the average daily room rate (ADR).
New Providence saw gains in both entire place and private room bookings with 23.7% and 25.8% increased respectively. Outside of the capital, most of the Airbnb bookings were for entire place.
Exuma saw an increase in Airbnb bookings this year. The inventory on the Exuma Cays rose by 43.8% with the ADR rising by 19%. Abaco and Grand Bahama also saw increased, with entire place listings rising by 32.7% and 50% respectively.
The Central Bank has reported that tourism as a whole has been up. They state that the tourism industry has been enjoying its strongest growth in eight years. Total arrivals reached 6.6 million, a 7.9% increase.
New Providence saw a 19.2% increase overall, mostly due to the Baha Mar resort opening. The Family Islands, such as Exuma, and Grand Bahama were also up. Tourism to the Family Islands was up by 10.7% and 5.4% to Grand Bahama.
Cruise ships were also up, which added to the tourism increase. According to the Central Bank, “The cruise sector grew by 5.5 percent during the year, with support from the Family Island (15.7 percent) and Grand Bahama (9.6 percent) components, although the dominant New Providence market declined by 1.5 percent as gains during the latter part of the year were negated by the weak performance earlier in 2018.”
As tourism accounts for around 80% of the Bahamian total economy, is great news to hear that the industry is doing well!