|MoT to relaunch air credits in July|
Guardian Business Editor
Published: Jun 28, 2012
The director general at the Ministry of Tourism insists that the airfare credit system has not been eliminated, and it should be reinstated on July 16.
David Johnson said the successful promotion, which helps alleviate the high cost of airline tickets, was delayed as it awaited final approvals and "sign-offs" from directors on the tourism boards.
He made assurances that the program is moving forward.
"We have not eliminated it," he said yesterday. "We are hoping it will launch on July 16. The partners will be notified today. The government has agreed. They now have that in hand."
The news comes as a top executive at Atlantis noted that summer bookings have been lagging this year due to the loss of the airfare credit system. Calling it "critical" to their success, George Markantonis, managing director and president of Kerzner International (Bahamas), revealed that the resort is behind last year for summer bookings.
"The air credit program was critical and it continues to impact bookings," he explained. "From now to the end of the year, for the summer mostly, we are behind last year. And the only difference in our programs is the airfare credits."
Johnson said the Kerzner executive is now aware that the system is being reinstated.
Under the airfare credit scheme, each room booking lasting between three to five nights receives a credit of $200 for airfare. Bookings lasting more than five nights receive $350.
Johnson agreed that the program is very important to the country's tourism industry in the face of high fuel and transaction costs. The Ministry of Tourism is now moving to alleviate that "quite aggressively".
"We have seen it, the numbers show it, and when we insert it we see a spike in bookings. When we withdraw it, there is a drop off. We try to use it stimulate the slower periods, so we are looking to manage it effectively," according to the director general.
The Paradise Island resort, by far the biggest player in the tourism scene, is reporting occupancy levels in the 90 percent range. That's expected to drop into the 80s, on average, for June, with similar results anticipated for July.
August could see occupancy levels in the 70s, Markantonis noted.
The mega resort is offering rooms in the Beach Tower for as low as $99 during that month.