According to the latest data from the Ministry of Tourism, the country’s performance has exceeded expectations for the first seven months of 2023, with a total of more than 5.89 million tourists from January to the end of July.
The Bahamas is currently performing well in tourism and is on track to end the year with more than 8 million visitors when air and sea arrivals are added together.
During the first seven months of the year, the Bahamas received a total of 5,893,118 guests, of which 1,133,494 arrived by air and 4,759,624 by sea.
The pace of arrivals through July is 30 percent above 2019 — the busiest year on record — and 59 percent above 2022.
When comparing monthly arrival numbers for 2023, March had the highest monthly arrival number ever (951,311).
According to the authorities, total tourist spending is also higher.
The major hotels on Paradise Island and in Nassau recorded higher occupancy rates in 2023 than at the corresponding times in 2019 and 2022.
Compared to 2019, the average daily rate increased 59 percent, while hotel revenue increased 42 percent during the same period.
More than 60 percent of travelers were first-time visitors to The Bahamas, and arrivals from nearly all regions increased compared to the same time last year.
“The stronger than expected results speak to vibrancy of The Bahamas’ brand, methodical business strategies and the hard work of tourism industry professionals and stakeholders,” said Bahamas Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism Minister Chester Cooper. “We are seeing record arrivals because we have all worked together to resuscitate our tourism industry, coming out of the pandemic, and because we continue to improve our tourism product.”
The Port of Nassau welcomed the most cruise arrivals, followed by the Berry Islands (Coco Cay), Bimini (Mainland and Ocean Cay), Half Moon Cay, Grand Bahama, and Abaco (Castaway Cay), in that order.
Total cruise arrivals from January through July is 72.1 percent higher than the same period in 2022 and 43 percent higher than historical cruise arrivals in 2019.
Total stopover air arrivals exceeded 2022 arrivals by 24% and were equal to 2019 arrivals.
The United States remains the main source of tourists visiting the region, accounting for 90% of all visitor arrivals, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe.
The Latin American market is steadily regaining its pre-pandemic stopover levels as it gains speed.
From January to July, 71% of all stopover travelers came to the Bahamas primarily for a vacation, followed by 15% for weddings and honeymoons, 6% for casino gambling, 4% for business, and 5% for “other/unknown” reasons.
“With a better developed downtown to complement the new cruise port and added destinations within The Bahamas coming on stream, the numbers will only continue to grow, if we continue to deliver great service and experiences,” said Cooper. “The plan for the redevelopment of Family Island airports and the construction of the new airport in Grand Bahama will reap rewards for Bahamians well into the future.”
“The last seven months of 2022 were the strongest in our history, prior to 2023,” he said. “The first seven months of 2023 exceeded the expectations of tourism officials. Our job is to stay ahead of the demand.”
Cooper asserted that government programs such as the revamped Tourism Development Corporation will allow Bahamians to start their own businesses.
“We are experiencing explosive growth in tourism that can no longer be explained by pent up post-pandemic demand,” the minister said. “Great jobs and career opportunities are to be had in tourism, but there is also massive potential for ownership. The government is putting in place systems to allow Bahamians access to the training, certification, support and capital they need to take advantage of the country’s popularity as a tourist destination.”