The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation has heralded the highest number of international arrivals ever, resulting in record hotel occupancy levels. The Bahamas won numerous tourism industry awards and media accolades in 2018 and 2019. The Bahamas began 2019 strong with the launch of a new, brand campaign highlighting the beauty and authenticity of its 16 islands in partnership with Lenny Kravitz, urging travelers to Fly Away to The Bahamas. The Ministry also announced exciting plans for the development of a state of the art cruise port in Nassau.
“It is my great pride and pleasure to report that The Bahamas is experiencing its strongest tourism numbers ever on record,” said Minister D’Aguilar. “We look forward to building upon the success of our progressive plans and continuing the momentum in 2019 as we forge ahead with exciting new initiatives.”
The Ministry’s data partner, ForwardKeys that tracks and reports inbound, visitor data 365 days in advance, from key designated marketing areas reported that international arrivals to The Bahamas grew by 15% in January 2019 versus January 2018. Several key markets registered double-digit growth. In February, international arrivals increased by 11.1% year-over-year. The forward booking situation for the next three months (March to May) is optimistic, with forward bookings running 9.0% ahead for international arrivals. April (ahead by 15.6%) shows the most favourable outlook.
Air capacity grew by 20.0% in January year-over-year, with a solid seat growth from the best-connected international markets – the U.S.A (+23.9%) and Canada (+12.7%). The USA and Canada will continue to lead the capacity growth in the next three months. The growth trend continues, as international air capacity grew by nearly 21% year-over-year in February.
Last year was a record-breaking year for cruise ship and stopover arrivals. By the end of 2018, foreign air and sea arrivals had totaled more than 6.6 million visitors, a drastic increase from the 6.1 million recorded in 2017. Stopover visitors alone had increased 16.7 percent in 2018, as compared to 2017, and Freeport saw a surge of sea visitors by 49 percent.
HOTEL AND AIRLIFT SALES INCREASE
The Nassau and Paradise Island hotel industry reported a spike in average daily room rates and revenue per available room in 2018 compared to 2017. The year ended with room revenues up 34 percent, gains not seen in the past ten years.
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
Caribbean Journal Caribbean Travel Awards – The Caribbean Journal, the largest website covering Caribbean tourism, bestowed upon the destination two key awards in its Caribbean Travel Awards 2018: Best Caribbean Destination and Best Caribbean Tourism Minister.
HSMAI – The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation accepted three awards for outstanding travel marketing at the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), the largest and most prestigious global travel marketing competition. In the Public Relations category, the Ministry was honored with a Gold Adrian Award for excellence in influencer marketing and a Bronze Adrian Award for its communications campaign. In the Advertising category, the Ministry was recognized for advertising innovation for its unique and authentic 16-island content marketing strategy.
USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for the Caribbean – The Islands Of The Bahamas was recognized with 18 awards across nine categories in this year’s USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for the Caribbean. The Bahamas claimed three number one spots for Best Caribbean Beach (Gold Rock Beach in Freeport), Best Caribbean Island for Romance (Green Turtle Cay in The Abacos) and Best Caribbean Restaurant (Graycliff in Nassau).
Media Accolades – These awards round out a growing list of media accolades and consumer travel trend reports positively positioning The Bahamas in 2019 including:
• Brit + Co’s “The 16 Best Places to Visit in 2019”
• Reader’s Digest’s “Best Winter Travel Destinations for 2019” (names Nassau and Paradise Island as the best destination for families)
• CNN’s “Top new places to stay in 2019” (lists Rosewood at Baha Mar)
• BRIDES’ “2019’s Most Luxe Honeymoon Destinations” (includes Grand Isle Resort & Spa’s 23 North on Great Exuma)
• Caribbean Journal’s “Caribbean Travel Awards 2018” (honors The Bahamas with Best Caribbean Destination and Best Caribbean Tourism Minister awards)
• Recommend’s “2018 Readers’ Choice Awards”
Consumer Trend Reports – The Bahamas is not just a favorite of the press, but consumers are speaking for themselves.
• KAYAK’s “Top Trending Destinations”
• American Express’ “Top Trending Travel Destinations for 2019” (notes that card member travel to Nassau is up 63 percent YOY)
CONTINUING THE MOMENTUM WITH FLY AWAY
The Ministry also debuted a new, multi-channel creative campaign featuring Bahamian-American rock legend Lenny Kravitz which reveals the authentic spirit of The Bahamas as a destination of adventure and discovery. Set to the lyrics of Kravitz’s hit song Fly Away, the television commercial and supporting marketing campaign capture his deep personal connection to The Bahamas, as well as the pure adrenaline rush of exploring the archipelago’s 100,000 square miles by boat and plane. Behind-the-scenes video follows Kravitz around his home base of Eleuthera, where he records music and embraces island time.
Supporting digital content at www.bahamas.com/flyaway will allow The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation to raise awareness of the destination’s many islands, which include Freeport, The Abacos, The Exumas, Andros, Bimini, The Berry Islands, Cat Island, Harbour Island and Eleuthera, Long Island, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Acklins, Nassau-Paradise Island and Crooked Island. The new hub draws visitors into island-specific microsites delivering inspiring vertical market video content on a variety of cultural and travel topics. The campaign underscores The Bahamas’ powerful appeal as a destination and its proximity as a quick Fly Away destination.