The Ministry of Tourism, Investment and Aviation confirmed that arrivals by air and sea, from January to the end of September 2023, amounted to 7,209,165. Of this record number of visitors to our beautiful islands, 1,332,752 arrived by air and 5,876,413 by sea, bringing the total arrivals to 33% higher than in 2019.
Explaining the country's tourism results in 2023, the Hon. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister of Tourism, Investment and Aviation, stated: "The overall objective of our efforts in tourism is to continually increase the number of visitor arrivals to our destination, year after year. Our tourism results in 2023 have been spectacular on two fronts. We have surpassed the tourism benchmark year of 2019 in all metrics, and our visitor arrival figures are a strong indication of a complete rebound after the pandemic."
Cruise arrivals from the beginning of the year to September increased by 61% compared to the corresponding period in 2022, and 45% compared to 2019. Foreign arrivals by air, including stopovers and day visitors , increased by 21% compared to the same period in 2022 and visitors with a stopover until September grew compared to the total number of visitors with a stopover in the same period of 2019.
Hotel occupancy has increased compared to 2019, and average daily room rates and revenue per room have increased significantly compared to that year. The Bahamas also continues to see gains in overall visitor spending ashore. DPM Cooper praised the result as a confluence of strategic planning and the continued confidence of hotel and cruise operators in the strength of the Bahamas brand.
"We are now confident of having a record year for tourist arrivals, and it is no coincidence. We have some of the most attractive cruise destinations in the region, with the new Port of Nassau causing a sensation on social media and throughout the tourism sector Nassau, Bimini, the Berry Islands, Half Moon Cay and other destinations have seen notable growth in cruise ship arrivals over the past two years, with more visitors getting off the ships and spending more time on land. making it felt throughout the economy."
DPM Cooper noted that metrics are also changing with scale visitors. "We see room rates are almost 60 percent higher than they were in 2019, however, occupancy rates are higher and room nights sold continue to increase" "This not only translates into higher income for all tourism players, but also speaks to the extraordinary demand that exists for our product. Importantly, we are seeing a healthy maintenance of repeat visitors from our main source markets, while we are witnessing significant increases in the new arrivals who are spreading the message about The Bahamas."
Cooper stated that the dedication of tourism agents to offer new experiences and stellar service year after year has not only helped the Bahamas tourism sector recover to pre-pandemic levels, but is also pushing us to gain share significantly larger market share in the region.
"We have to be incredibly intentional about tourism. The Ministry of Tourism and its partners spend a lot of time and energy to better understand our customers," he said. "What we know is that with the projects underway on many of our islands and the coming years of remodeling of airport infrastructure on all of our islands, we will continue to increase our arrival numbers, barring unforeseen events or global shocks."
"This is the strongest tourism there has ever been, and we only hope our results get stronger."