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Tourism sector output weak in first quarter, says Central Bank

  • According to data from the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), visitor departures decreased by 6.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017. FILE

CHESTER ROBARDS
Senior Business Reporter
chester@nasguard.com

Published: Jul 17, 2017

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Cuba's Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero announced recently that Cuba’s tourist arrivals from the U.S. have grown by 150 percent, despite travel restrictions, and its market from Canada has rebounded from 2016. Meantime, The Bahamas is struggling to play catch up in the region, with a first quarter decline this year, according to The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB).

It has been reiterated time and again that The Bahamas' tourism sector has been stagnant for some time, and its growth, some argue, is being threatened by the heightened interest in this country's next-door neighbor.

While Grand Bahama hotels attempt to sputter to life with whispers of investment, Cuba is seeking development to accommodate its growing number of tourists, which Marrero said is on target to beat projections by half a million, according to an article on the website Caribbean News Now.

On the home front, "Indications are that output in the tourism sector was relatively weak during the first quarter, reflecting in part weather-related factors, which resulted in delays and the cancellation of several travel itineraries in the final month of the period," according to CBOB's Quarterly Economic Review for March.

"Moreover, the loss of significant hotel room capacity in Grand Bahama — the country’s second largest market — in the final quarter of 2016 following the passage of Hurricane Mathew, continued to negatively impact the sector," the report states.

While former Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe shrugged off Cuba's growing success,

newly-appointed Tourism Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar said the country should be concerned.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said recently that the key to his government's success is the turnaround of Grand Bahama's economy, which is said to have "hit rock bottom".

Data from the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), shows that visitor departures decreased by 6.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, "in contrast to a four percent gain a year earlier".

And on the heels of those grim stats came an announcement by NAD that it would be increasing its fees, which will affect the cost of travel to The Bahamas.

"Similarly, the non-U.S. visitor segment contracted by 3.9 percent, a reversal from a 3.4 percent increase a year earlier," the CBOB report states.

For Cuba, "other markets also showed increases, including Spain, France, Italy and Germany", the Caribbean News Now story noted.

 

 

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