CHTM faculty and staff attended the Board of Directors Meeting of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association on February 8, 2018 at the recently opened Baha Mar Convention Centre. Ms. Christine Rollins and Ms. Elizabeth Mackay were both in attendance to represent the Centre as well as to hear the most recent industry updates and projections.
The President of Baha Mar reported a robust holiday season with the majority of rooms occupied. Resort restaurants continue to open, with the most recent being the Italian and Chinese offerings. The significant support of the local community was noted and appreciation extended for some.
The final phase of Atlantis Coral Towers room renovations is currently underway while Harbourside renovations continue and are expected to be completed soon. The holiday season was successful with high occupancy rates and sold out shows featuring Sting and Cool and The Gang. Local food offerings including Frankie Gone Bananas, McKenzie’s Conch Stand and Pirate’s Republic (locally produced craft beer) are on stream. Fire and Ice with its nine flavors of local made ice-cream is located in the Coral Towers lobby and continues to do very well. January 2018 was one of the best in a long time and the numbers to March are trending extremely well.
Leroy Browne of Hilton Hotel reported a strong finish to the 2017 fourth quarter. While hurricane activity adversely affected figures for September and October, the overall quarter performance was positive. To date January has been flat. The hotel continues in the midst of finalizing refurbishment plans.
Gary Williams of Sandals Royal Bahamian reported that the resort ended December three points ahead of December 2017. Renovations to the tune of $5.1 million were completed on ten villas in time for the Christmas season. To date the first quarter of 2018 looks positive.
Jeremy Mutton, Sandals Emerald Bay, noted a very strong start in 2018. The 2nd annual PGA tournament hosted in Exuma proved successful both for the resort and the island. The resort ended January with occupancy of 84%, February is looking at 94% – a good start to 2018. He went on to update on the performance throughout the Family Islands – North and central family islands outperformed the southern islands. The 2018 forecast is for the largest growth in the northern islands with the southern islands expecting minimal improvement. Hotels in the north continue to perform well, central also, while southern islands continue to struggle. Accessibility is the chief concern. Airlift in the southern Bahamas continues to present a significant challenge, rendering the islands essentially inaccessible – one small Acklins hotel ran occupancy rates of approximately 2% for all of 2017.
Tru Tru Bahamian vendors were showcased at the meeting. The Tru Tru Bahamian Festival was held at John Waitlings Distillery in February 2018 where over 5,000 attendees were at the event that is intended to reduce leakages from the current 85 cents of every dollar. There are hopes to move the Tru Tru Festival to the family islands as well as to host similar events more frequently. The Local Sourcing Committee continue to strategize ways to reduce leakages of tourism revenue.
A special presentation ‘Creating a world Class Bahamas’ was given by Joy Jibrilu, Director General of Tourism, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation. Commitment, connectivity, capital, collaboration, convenience and cost were noted as key areas of focus for world class tourism destinations. She noted that regional success in tourism may be a result of enduring demand for tropical holidays as opposed to our commitment to technological and business enhancement in product development. Value for money was highlighted as a key challenge for the Bahamas tourism industry with the high cost of the Bahamas holiday being an issue as a result of the poor justification of the cost of the holiday given the shortfalls in quality experiences, restaurants, accommodations and customer service. Connectivity was also mentioned as a critical element of success. A simple website profile is no longer enough, connectivity with online travel agencies and travel apps is essential as they are extensively used in the process of holiday choice and booking. The Director General highlighted proximity, diversity, friendliness and industry experience as some of The Bahamas’ main strengths.
The keynote speaker, The Honorable T. Brent Symonette, Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration spoke on ‘How the Ministry of Financial Service, Trade and Industry and Immigration can Impact and Improve Doing Business in the Tourism Industry’. Significantly he notes that IDB class A airports will receive $30 million in necessary upgrades. Airports in north Eleuthera and central Eleuthera are among those to be upgraded. North Eleuthera being the third largest airport in the Bahamas.
Written by E. Mackay © 2018