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Bahamas hits new tourism record with 5.9 million holidaymakers in 2012

Tourism income in the Bahamas, with a record-breaking 5.9 million visitors in 2012, is expected to keep growing. According to the Tourism Minister, if more travellers keep choosing Bahamas holidays, the country could welcome 7 million tourists by 2015.

Bahamas hits new tourism record with 5.9 million holidaymakers in 2012

With an already record-breaking 5.9 million visitors in 2012, tourism income in the Bahamas is expected to keep growing at a fast rate in the next few years. Obie Wilchcombe, Tourism Minister, reckons that if the tourism industry continues to evolve and develop, the country will ensure that more travellers take holidays in the Bahamas, making it possible for the island to welcome 7 million tourists in a year by 2015.

While debating the mid-year budget at the House of Assembly, Mr. Wilchcombe talked about the industry’s plans for the future and the need to change in order to reach the ambitious goal: “Over the last 30 to 40 years there have been some changes in the tourism industry,” he said “Last year The Bahamas ended the year with a record number again, 5.9 million visitors. That tells you that we’re about to head to the 7 million that I’m projecting in another two years. And our preliminary report shows spend might also be up, particularly the spend from the cruise ship passengers.”

One of the most important sectors in the island’s economy, tourism, grew 7.3 per cent last year (as 5.5 million visitors had entered the island in 2011), and a great deal of this growth came from cruise ship passengers. The majority of travellers taking Bahamas holidays in 2012 chose to spend their free time relaxing on cruise ships. “Of course you have the cruise ship visitors who are continuing to provide those incredible numbers that we’re seeing,” added Mr. Wilchcombe “It makes you feel that there is hope in the tourism industry. We see the World Travel and Tourism Council are reporting that The Bahamas is likely to see a 5.3 per cent growth this year in the tourism industry. That’s good because, whether we like it or not, we are still anchored to tourism.”

However, the challenging goal of making this growth happen so quickly won’t be attained if some profound transformations don’t take place soon. “In the cruise industry just two Fridays ago we had 26,000 passengers on Bay Street,” said Mr. Wilchcombe “So it tells you that we are right there but what we have to do is understand that we have to change some things that we do. We have to listen to what the customer is saying. The customer is saying they want a better product.”

The Tourism Minister pointed that there is still much work to be done, as visitors request better service, more entertainment, more culture and lower prices for a better experience in cruise ships as well as quality Bahamas hotels and resorts. Another obstacle the industry must overcome are the high energy costs, which are superior to that of Mexico’s by 300 per cent and that of Jamaica’s by 150 per cent. “You can spend money on marketing but if you don’t have the product they are going to go somewhere else,” he resumed.

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