Categorized | Business, National News

Wilchcombe Optimistic Over Record Tourism Numbers

Building on the momentum of 6.2 million visitors to Bahamian shores in 2013, the Ministry of Tourism recently reported double digit growth in stopover arrivals, a measurable spike hotel room occupancy levels and rates for January 2015.

At 74,000 visitors, this represented a 13 percent increase over the same period in 2014, a 7 percent hike in hotel occupancy levels and an average room rate increase of 11 percent.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe believes this performance means that the country is on the right track as far as tourism is concerned and is the result of his ministry’s comprehensive and multi-tiered marketing strategy covering the full tourism gambit from sports and culture to co-branding, major groups and romance tourism.

“I believe we are on the right track, we have a good team that’s working. The co-branding is working. The sporting events in particular are working, so we are on the right track and I feel quite comfortable,” said Mr. Wilchcombe.

Getting more specific about his ministry’s marketing strategy, the minister listed the Tiger Woods Heroes Championship golfing event, “the big event that will end the year”, which he expects “thousands of people to come for”.

Speaking of group events, delegates from some 43 countries that make up the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) will meet in The Bahamas in April.

These were just some of the major events mentioned by the minister in addition to basketball, football and group events planned for 2015.

Given the economic challenges of Grand Bahama, Mr. Wilchcombe was particularly encouraged by the work of the Grand Bahama marketing team and the expansion in the active room inventory on that island as a result of increased demand.

“We have individuals like Stephen Hunter who is helping (with) the recovery in Grand Bahama” said the minister, “so much so in Grand Bahama that they have had to open an additional 100 rooms over at the Grand Lucayan from the place that has been closed for a while, the Lighthouse, and they have had to open 100 rooms because of the large numbers and the record breaking numbers in Grand Bahama.”

Confirming that from The Bahamas’ current tourism performance and “from all of the surveys we’ve seen”, The Bahamas is one of the preferred warm weather destinations in the Caribbean, the minister indicated as he turned his attention to the all important topic of service in order to maintain the country’s competitive edge.
In doing so he reiterated the government’s familiar theme that tourism is everybody’s business.

“What we have to do now as Bahamians is to understand that we have to deliver the service,” the minister said.

He continued that Bahamians must show their visiting guests “how unique it is to be in The Bahamas because you lose your competitive edge when your quality is not there. So far so good, in fact I have received some wonderful notes about some taxi drivers. I’m very proud of that, but at the same time, matters that come up from time to time we can resolve in different ways as opposed to involving the tourists in what we are trying to settle.”

“But it’s not just one area. It’s all the areas,” said the minister. “It’s (the) groups, it’s sporting events, it’s the weddings. All these components make it work.”
For all of our hard work that has been done in turning the tourism product around, Minister Wilchcombe proudly announced that The Bahamas was nominated for nine prestigious World Tourism awards.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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