Tourist volumes in Bahamas surprisingly strong
Statistics released by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism for the months of August and September bested expectations and point to good prospects for the key winter season.
The tourist market provides the base for the overall Bahamian economy. What's more, the prospect for record or near-record tourist volumes in the months ahead will translate into more cargo for the ocean carriers that provide frequent sailings between Florida and the islands of the Bahamas.
The Ministry of Tourism numbers for September totaled just over 300,000 foreign visitors, topping the record year of 2005, when 272,000 visitors came during September.
The September numbers followed the 375,000 visitors arriving by air and sea during August, a 7.6 percent increase.
The strong numbers for the late summer and early fall have surprised some, because the slight downturn in 2006 was seen as the start of a trend. New U.S. passport requirements were expected to slow tourism from the United States, which is the single-largest source of visitors, generally making up around three-quarters of the total.
Hurricanes and tropical storms that hurt competing tourist locations to the south like Mexico and the Dominican could have driven more tourists to the Bahamas, industry experts believe. But the Ministry of Tourism said aggressive marketing efforts that followed the 2006 slowdown appear to be paying off.
The ministry said there were more visitors from Europe and Canada, and there was an especially strong turnaround in U.S. visitors from neighboring Florida.