Visitor Count Grows In 2004
'Despite the hurricanes the general trend for 2004 was better than 2003 and we think that 2005 is going to be even better,' said tourism official
The lastest tourism figures indicate that more Americans are overcoming their fear of traveling overseas since the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
This came from Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism Colin Higgs at the announcement of the finalists for the 9th Annual Cacique Awards held in the Rum Cay Room of the British Colonial Hilton on Monday.
Statistics from the immigration cards revealed that there were more Americans traveling during this year's Christmas season than that of Sept. 11, 2001.
"It seems to be a lot more confidence in the American public to now begin to travel. They feel a lot safer, I guess. So travel has increased. Tourism has increased, not so much in The Bahamas but globally. The projection was well over 90 percent for the hotels here in New Providence. Over the Christmas there is a lull but then it picks back up in the New Year. But the projections look really good, going into January, February and even down into March," Mr. Higgs said.
Even in Abaco and Grand Bahama which were affected by Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances, tourism has still seen a significant boost this year, he advised.
"Despite the hurricanes the general trend for 2004 was better than 2003 and we think that 2005 is going to be even better," he said.
Like other Caribbean nations, he continued, this has been a challenging year for The Bahamas particularly as competition increases.
"I am pleased to say that we have stood strong against the many challenges, and we have overcome some great difficulties. All of our successes are due to the tremendous efforts of men and women throughout the country, who have made great sacrifices to ensure that tourism remains viable and competitive," he said.
"We have to also focus on the product," Mr Higgs went on. "We have to deliver what we promise. We can't say that it is better in The Bahamas and when people come to The Bahamas as a visitor and it's not the best. So we have to focus on the product and make sure that we deliver. This is not a cheap destination. This is a high-end destination and so we have to provide the best in terms of product and product also includes service."
At the end of 2005, he concluded, everyone involved in the industry should be able to say with pride that it is truly better in The Bahamas.
Vanessa Rolle, The Nassau Guardian