Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bahamas sees record arrival numbers

Randy Holmes of Canada will be recognized as the country's 5 millionth visitor. Pictured (from left) are Marilyn Fernander of Bahamas Customs, Randy Holmes his sister Liana Holmes, and Ministry of Tourism & Aviation representatives Betty Bethel and Terrance Roberts. (Photo: Andre Cartwright/Ministry of Tourism)

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- The Bahamas recorded 5 million visitors Saturday for only the second time in history, and the country is on track to receive the largest number of visitors in its history as well.
Minister of Tourism & Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace announced the milestone Sunday as he explained a process to recognize and award the 5 millionth visitor. Since the Bahamas has as many as 20 ports of entry into the country, and the arrivals process is not fully automated, it is impossible to tell exactly which visitor became the 5 millionth, Minister Vanderpool-Wallace said. As a result, the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation initiated a process to identify a person to be recognized as the 5 millionth visitor.

Throughout the Bahamas, arriving visitors were selected as candidates to be the 5 millionth visitor on Saturday – the day when statistics showed that the 5 millionth tally would be achieved. Through random drawing, Randy Holmes of Vancouver, British Colombia. Mr. Holmes and his wife were selected when their American Eagle flight arrived in Grand Bahama at 11:45am Saturday.

“We expect that by the end of this year, we will be beyond the numbers we had the first time around, and we are delighted to have this year, the largest number of visitors ever,” Minister Vanderpool-Wallace said.

Although the record number of arrivals has been achieved, the Bahamas still has much work to do to ensure that economic conditions are sustainable, Minister Vanderpool-Wallace said. He said most of the growth was in cruise arrivals. When looking at tourism development, destinations concentrate on growing high-spending stopover visitors, he said.
Minister of Tourism & Aviation Vincent Vanderpool Wallace selects Randy Holmes as the 5 millionth visitor of The Islands of The Bahamas for 2010. Also pictured are Basil Smith, chief communications officer of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (left), and Raymond Francis, executive director of the Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board (right). (Photo: Derek Smith)

Minister Vanderpool-Wallace said that total arrivals by the end of the year are expected to be about 14 – 15 percent ahead of last year’s total. Stopover visitors would have grown about four or four and a half percent, he said.

However, Minister Vanderpool-Wallace also pointed out that 70 percent of cruises to the Bahamas only visit the Bahamas and no other destination. He said that this was an important source of business for many small businesses, and the healthy cruise arrivals are also providing more business opportunities for Bahamians, especially in tours and attractions.

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