In a year of stirring highs and unimaginable tragedy, tourism in The Bahamas still managed to post a record-breaking year.
In a significant sign for the country’s tourism comeback, The Bahamas is reporting record-breaking visitors arrivals across all sectors in 2019.
That included the highest-ever recorded amount of stopover visitors in The Bahamas, with 1.78 million, including the most-ever stopover visitors from the United States, with 1.45 million.
Combined with The Bahamas’ crucial cruise sector, the destination welcomed 7.216 million visitor arrivals, the most ever for the country, and a 9 percent increase compared to 2018.
“[These are] the strongest tourism numbers in our history,” Bahamas Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said at a briefing during the Caribbean Travel Marketplace conference in Nassau. “This is a tremendous accomplishment, particularly in light of the challenging year we, as a country just endured. I stand before you with tremendous gratitude and admiration for every single one of my fellow Bahamians who have showed the world the true meaning of resilience.”
D’Aguilar called 2019 “one for the history books,” pointing to the “tremendous tragedy brought to us by Hurricane Dorian.”
“However, the Bahamian people stood together, remaining strong and resilient, and the world took notice. We are in awe of our country, and deeply grateful for the outpouring of support and assistance from friends, partners, and even strangers from around the globe,” he said.
The news continues what has been a far longer trend of tourism growth in The Bahamas.
Since 2009, The Bahamas has seen a 52 percent jump in combined air and sea arrivals, according to data from The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
“This tremendous achievement would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the team behind the scenes at the Ministry of Tourism as well as our industry and agency partners,” said Director General, Joy Jibrilu.
The Bahamas’ strong 2019 was the result of many factors, including what, unsurprisingly, included surging arrival numbers before Hurricane Dorian — and a massive increase in airlift to the destination, on carriers ranging from United Airlines to Delta — a trend that is likely continue in 2020.
“The Ministry attributes this historic success to data-driven, agile marketing, authentic storytelling, and aggressive PR, sales and airlift strategies,” the Ministry of Tourism said in a statement.”
But it was also the country’s quick action to remind tourists of the many islands unaffected by the storm ready for travelers that likely helped soften the blow of the storm — and help lead to record-breaking growth.
“We began our campaign in the days immediately following Hurricane Dorian and have remained diligently aggressive ever since,” D’Aguilar said. “[We want] to spread the message that The Bahamas is open, beautiful and ready to welcome all with open arms. This sentiment has been embraced wholeheartedly, sparking international headlines and content encouraging travel to our islands.”
It’s major momentum for the country as it kicks of 2020, and as the tourism sectors have already begun to rebound both in Grand Bahama, where almost 1,500 rooms are already back open and, even more notably, in Abaco.
Indeed, South Abaco has made an admirable tourism comeback: the renowned Abaco Club on Winding Bay and its championship golf course is open and operating again, while the Sandpiper Inn in South Abaco’s Schooner Bay community is also back.