Bahamas Hotels See Small September Boost

Friday, 13 November 2009 00:00 News Editor
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A slim upturn in the Bahamas hotel trade shown in September's figures has been cautiously welcomed by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation and the Bahamas Hotel Association.

Preliminary statistics released yesterday by the hotel industry and the department show that the 14 major New Providence hotels recorded a 38.9 per cent occupancy rate for September.

This compared to 31% in 2008. The resulting 4.8% increase in hotel room nights sold combined with an increase in average daily room rate (ADR) of almost five dollars, generated a 7.9% room revenue gain.

For September 2009, the ADR was $164.44 compared to $159.75 last year. Available room nights decreased by 16.5 per cent, reflecting the closure of rooms at Baha Mar's Wyndham property on August 17th and the RIU property in September.

Ten of the 12 reporting properties recorded a modest September increase in room revenue. However, September's positive performance did little to reverse the third quarter performance and reflects primarily a year over year comparison with September 2008, the starting point for the worst tourism cycle since 1991 and the first Iraq War. The third quarter occupancy was 60.1% compared to 61.9% in 2008. Room nights sold and room revenue were 11.8% and 20.6% below last year's third quarter levels. The ADR recorded was $200.51 compared to $222.94 in 2008.

Looking at the performance for the year, hotel occupancy stood at 63.5% compared to 68.9% last year. The ADR was $230.35 while January to September last year was $254.42. Hotel revenue fell 21% with 12 of the 14 hotels reporting losses for the year so far. Hotel room nights sold decreased by 12.8%.

The latest preliminary air arrivals to the end of August, released by the Department of Statistics and the Ministry of Tourism for New Providence showed a 9.3% decrease or 71,812 fewer foreign air arrivals than in 2008.

In a joint statement the BHA and the Ministry said: "While the hotel industry welcomed the improved performance in September, the Bahamas Hotel Association advises that it must be taken in context.

"The Bahamas experienced a high level of cancellations and lost bookings last year as a result of a major hurricane threat. This was followed immediately by the precipitous collapse of the US financial markets, cancellations of group business and a halt in impulse travel.

"While the average daily rate for September inched up and revenue per available room has increased, they remain considerably below pre-recession levels and point to the continued vulnerability of the industry."

"The year to date revenue picture continues to concern hoteliers with the cumulative effect continuing to force management to remain prudent operationally and place similar constraints on Government. Most of the hotels which experienced occupancy growth in September also experienced shorter stays by guests. This may add to the overall visitor arrivals numbers for September.

"The outlook for the industry remains cautious, one month's performance is not a trend, and the next several months should determine the extent to which optimism may be returning.

"Industry continues to monitor US economic performance indicators, a number which are beginning to show signs of improvement, the latest being an announcement that US GDP should be higher than previously anticipated.

As US consumer confidence rebounds and unemployment levels drop, The Bahamas will see an acceleration of its tourism industry's recovery.

Source: The Nassau Guardian