Bahamians To Compensate For Tourism Falloff

The Out Islands Promotion Board is readying to up its marketing ante to Bahamians in an attempt to get locals to make up hotel occupancy in the off season by 20 percent.

"We are talking to major resorts as well as small bed and breakfasts," Raymond Francis told Guardian Business. "And we're saying to them 'listen if you don't have the occupancy levels, let's create the demand.

"So if [the hotel operator] is sitting at 50 percent occupancy, well domestic tourism can give [them] another 20 percent."

Francis was on-hand at the inaugural Air Canada flight arrival to Exuma this week. He added that the Ministry of Tourism was now working on having other major flights fly into other islands from the U.S.

While Tourism has been touting the benefits of domestic tourism for more than a year now, he said some of the delay had come from trying to get hotels on the island prepared for an increase in local travelers.

"Bahamians are very discerning travelers [and] they know good hotel rooms and good service," he added, "and we're trying to work with these hotels to improve their level of service and their hotel product on the institutional side.

"But first we got to get Bahamians on the islands."

That's a problem the ministry is hoping to solve with the launch of a new domestic tourism campaign set to usher in never before seen specials being offered for travel within The Bahamas.

Indeed, it's the kind of promotion that may help mitigate the falloff in visitor arrivals for small hotels on the Family Islands, given it would largely draw on Bahamians who are already hungry to see much of their own country.

The project is set to start March 15 and would see the ministry's 'companion fly free' benefit be applied to domestic travel.

Source: The Nassau Guardian