Bahamas on Track to Exceed Pre-Pandemic Visitation - With Canadians' Help

Senior members of the Bahamas' delegation

A contingent of Bahamians hosted a group of over 100 media and industry members at Toronto’s Park Hyatt Hotel on 01NOV. The occasion? The chance to find out what’s new in the 700 islands of the Bahamas.

The event, along with other activities in Calgary (31OCT) and Montreal (03NOV), was complemented by a trade show for agents in Vaughan, just outside Toronto (02NOV).

The Bahamian delegation numbered over 20 and included tourist board personnel based in Canada, the US and the islands as well as senior tourism officials and hoteliers. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation addressed the audience; and Dr. R. Kenneth Romer, Deputy Director General also gave an extensive presentation.

The table settings reflected the colours of the national flag

Guests enjoyed a Bahamian-themed meal from tables draped in yellow in blue as a salute to the Bahamian flag, along with a destination update.

2019 was a record-breaking year for tourism in the islands, and officials are delighted to report that 2022 is trending to meet or excel that.

Canadians, who represent 10 per cent of the market, have restored significant air lift, with services on AC (YYZ to NAS and GGT [Exuma] and YUL-NAS). WS is offering YYZ-NAS and YYC-NAS while WG is promoting their new flights from YYZ and YUL to FPO.

16 of the islands are developed for tourism – and developments are booming.

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USD $300 million is being devoted to the redevelopment of the NAS cruise port, while USD $500 million is being invested in airports. Sandals has set aside USD $55 million for its Royal Bahamian property alone, while the first boutique beachfront resort in NAS, Goldwynn Resort & Residences, opens its doors in FEB next year.

Janet Johnson-Cuffie, Director MICE Markets for the Ministry (centre) with Sunwing’s Dave Wright and Lorraine Brisbois

"Many Destinations in One"

The emphasis is definitely on selling the Bahamas as many destinations in one. Those looking for a cosmopolitan destination can opt for NAS with its glittering casinos and shops. Clients with a fondness for the natural can enjoy encounters with stingrays (“They’re just like puppies!”) or goats, and swim with the pigs. Foodies looking for an authentic Grand Bahama/FPO experience can sample the weekly Smith’s Point Fish Fry and the beachfront Stone Crab and Flying Fish restaurants.

And if connecting with locals is important, agents can recommend the free People to People program which matches locals with visitors, including those with kids, for a get together for a meal or a trip to the beach. I did this myself years ago and spent a lovely afternoon drinking tea in the home of a gracious lady who told me about her life in the islands.

As a beaming Deputy Prime Minister put it, “We are the greatest little country in the world” – clearly open for business and anticipating more Canadians this year than ever before.

Martha Chapman

Columnist

An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha can often be seen On The Town covering industry events. Known to all in the biz, Martha has worked her entire career in travel, beginning as a teenaged hotel receptionist in Bermuda.

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