By: Ann Ruppenstein
Following a prolonged period of travel restrictions, Joy Jibrilu, the Director General of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, knows travellers from around the world are eager to explore again.
“Our insights indicate that there’s a huge interest in Caribbean travel and specifically travel to The Bahamas,” Jibrilu announced during the recent Caribbean Travel Marketplace. “According to Expedia Groups’ North American sites, searches to and about The Bahamas have increased nearly 170% in February and market intelligence reveals that longer international trips are a preference as tourism moves forward into Q3 and Q4 of 2021, which is a clear indication that tourism to The Bahamas will continue to grow through the rest of 2021.”
Jibrilu noted the destination is preparing for a post-COVID travel rebound with the health of locals and visitors remaining a top priority.
“The last few months have seen the first phase of the rollout of our local vaccination campaign. We’ve eased our entry protocols for travellers who have been fully vaccinated, eliminating the need for a PCR COVID test requirement upon entry or follow up testing during their stay,” she said. “As we move forward welcoming back travellers to our destination, we will continue to make safety our No. 1 priority.”
The Director General pointed out that The Bahamas purposely worked on increasing the visibility of the Caribbean nation to ensure it would be top of mind as restrictions eased.
“We acknowledge the heightened role travel advisors will play as consumers resume travel,” she said, noting The Bahamas Specialist Program has just been relaunched as a highly user friendly only virtual training platform.
With cruises accounting for over 70% of its visitor arrivals, Jibrilu welcomed the news of cruise lines such as Crystal Cruises and Royal Caribbean returning to its islands.
“In preparation for the full return of cruising in the very near future, we continue on pace with the redevelopment of the port of Nassau, a $250 million investment project that is slated for completion by the summer of 2022,” she said. “Boaters, mega yachts, private pilots, anglers, divers and all those in pursuit of adventures in the great outdoors will find The Bahamas a magnet in this era of social distancing.”
Weddings and honeymoons remain another priority segment for the destination, as well as meetings and groups, which brought $95 million into the local economy in 2019.
“The evidence shows that many of our guests are indeed repeat visitors but we know they are looking for new things to do,” she said. “We’re therefore encouraged by the vitality and energy many of our stakeholders have brought to upgrading their properties and attractions. What we’re seeing across our destination is a massive upgrade of the product in preparation for the return of our visitors.”