The Bahamas continues to see a strong performance in tourism as it is on pace to “shatter” last year’s numbers and its record 2019 performance,
Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper yesterday revealed this nation welcomed nearly one million visitors in January.
During his contribution to the mid-year budget debate yesterday, Cooper who has ministerial responsibility for Tourism, Aviation, and Investments said: “When we look at what is happening in 2023 we are shattering 2022 numbers and 2019 numbers.
“What is even better news is that I am able to reveal is that we saw nearly one million visitors come to The Bahamas in the first month of this year alone. In January we had nearly one million visitors to The Bahamas,” said Cooper.
According to Cooper, this nation welcomed 846,000 visitors in January of this year, compared to 300,000 in January of 2022. Cooper noted that a 20 percent growth in this country’s tourism segment is forecast for this year.
“We have every reason to believe that we are going to meet and exceed that target,” he said.
He also noted that departure tax collected for the first six months of the fiscal year totaled $71.5 million an improvement of $45 million or 85 percent over the prior year.
Cooper also noted that the government has launched a request for proposal (RFP)for the redevelopment of 14 Family Island airports which will transform the country’s aviation infrastructure. He noted that overall, this is an investment of over $260 million.
“The government is using a PPP approach to provide a solution for a brighter future beyond the current challenges and inefficiencies within the Family Island airports. What we are seeking to do is create a Family Island Renaissance that will see growth and development spurred in our beautiful archipelago. We believe this airport development initiative has a great chance of success due to systematic and significant initiatives by this administration to create a strong, world-class regulatory and institutional framework,” said Cooper.
He also noted that the government has also committed to the enhancement of the Airports Fee Structure required to increase prospects for profitability to better justify the increased capital expenditure.
“I saw that there were some rumblings over the coming increase in user fees in the Family Islands. What has not been said is that taxpayers are subsidizing the Family Island airports right now for almost $13 million a year even in their dilapidated state, whether they use them or not. We can do better, and we will,” said Cooper.
He added, “What we are going to do with Family Island airports has never been done in the history of this country. This will revolutionize aviation and bring a significant boost to our Family Islands. Let me also say that residents will pay more but will pay significantly less than international travelers. The number one complaint we get from domestic and international passengers in the Family Islands is about the airports – not the fees.
Resorts have complained of guests falling out in the sun as they wait to be processed, and visitors complain about toilets not working, leaks, and general disrepair. These new airports will eliminate those issues and will accommodate more security personnel for faster processing,” said Cooper.