Buoyed by one of the Caribbean’s leading travel health systems, The Bahamas is seeing a broad tourism rebound.
Indeed, tourism is rebounding every day in The Bahamas, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said this week.
Almost 300,000 visitors have received Bahamas Travel Health visas to enter the country in the first five months of 2021, according to D’Aguilar.
Tourism industry stakeholders in The Bahamas told Caribbean Journal that the country’s recent decision to waive pre-testing requirements for vaccinated travelers was also a major move.
“Everyone sees it,” D’Aguilar said. “The airports are getting busier. The marinas up and down The Bahamas have never been busier. The occupancy levels in the hotels are improving and, most importantly, the tens of thousands of Bahamians who were furloughed as a result of this pandemic are slowly being called back to work.”
It’s borne out in the numbers.
A total of 294,000 visitors have received health visas, with a dramatically improving growth rate.
In January, the country approved 22,000 visas; 30,000 in February; 64,000 in March; 68,000 in April and 110,000 in May.
“The rate of increase in their return is phenomenal,” D’Aguilar said. “Tourism is bouncing back.”
And the recovery is not just in the country’s traditional tourism hub in Nassau.
About 60 percent of visitors are traveling to Nassau, while 40 percent are visiting the Out Islands.
“That confirms to me that the [Out Islands] are bouncing back faster than Nassau,” he said.
Indeed, in 2019, pre-pandemic, the breakdown was 75 percent Nassau and 25 percent Out Islands.
That’s been led by Eleuthera, mostly Harbour Island, which accounted for 27 percent of all visitors to the Out Islands, D’Aguilar said, followed by 20 percent going to Bimini and Cat Cay and 19 percent to Abaco.
Another 17 percent went to Exuma.
The Minister attributed that trend to the demand fro low-density, secluded vacations at smaller properties, the kinds which are a specialty in the Out Islands.
“That is exactly what happened,” he said.
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