Memorial Weekend Boosts Room Nights

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Atlantis is set to enjoy a "several thousand room night" boost this Memorial Day weekend, Kerzner International's Bahamas head yesterday telling Tribune Business that with 85 per cent of tickets already sold, the concert was on track for a sell-out.

Emphasising that he was "very optimistic" that Atlantis and the One & Only Ocean Club would enjoy a strong summer, George Markantonis, Kerzner International (Bahamas) president and managing director, said the events planned for Memorial Day weekend - also including a Michael Douglas celebrity golf tournament - were likely to reverse the expected "soft" early May trend.

And he added that Atlantis's success in securing Caribbean Travel Marketplace for the second year running, the resort having been named as the 2013 venue, would benefit the wider Bahamas and tourism industry by exposing the sector's 'movers and shakers' to what this nation had to offer yet again.

"The first part of the month in May has been softm as we expect, but the proof lies in the last 10 days and the Memorial Day weekend," Mr Markantonis told Tribune Business. "Memorial weekend is looking exceptionally strong, with the Kenny Chesney concert and the Michael Douglas golf tournament.

"Some 85 per cent of the Kenny Chesney tickets have been sold. If the concert on Saturday night is that far already, it's going to be a sell-out, and it will attract several thousand room nights, so we're very pleased with how it's worked out."

Meanwhile, Mr Markantonis said Kerzner International had worked with the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) and the Promotion Board to try and lure Caribbean Travel Marketplace back to Paradise Island for 2013.

"We tried to pull that off, because that was good for the community and good for the country. The good news is that we did it," he confirmed."

In 2012, Caribbean Travel Marketplace saw a 17 per cent increase (over 2011) in buyer companies with 142 in attendance, as well as an increase in buyer delegates which totaled 344 versus 314 in 2011.

Buyer companies came from Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Canada (nine companies), Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Japan, Martinique, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Russia (11 companies), Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (22 companies) and United States (74 companies).

Hoteliers, tourism providers and tour operators/wholesalers from around the world scheduled 12,250 appointments over the course of the two-day Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2012, up from 11,880 appointments in 2011.

Mr Markantonis, though, told Tribune Business that the numbers were not as important as "the future business" that could be generated for Atlantis and the wider Bahamian tourism industry.

"We're getting the movers and shakers from airlines, professional travel providers coming here," he explained, exchanging ideas, rates and planning business for years to come.

"Because it's the preeminent Caribbean Travel Marketplace it's very valuable, and even more so for us as a nation, because of the possibility for them to explore Nassau, and see the new Straw Market, the new roads, the airport," Mr Markantonis said.

"Most countries get this opportunity once every five to 10 years, but for us to pull it off two years in a row is very beneficial."

Mr Markantonis also told Tribune Business that Kerzner International was set to launch its latest marketing campaign in the first week of June, while the Royal Towers renovation had "gone out to design".

The actual renovation work, which will see 600 Royal Towers rooms done this year, and the other 600 in 2013, will take place between the end of August and mid-November, since Atlantis will require their use during the summer months.

Meanwhile, Mr Markantonis said he would again be part of a joint Bahamian hotel industry, Ministry of Tourism and Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) delegation heading to Dallas later this month for a meeting with American Airlines to discuss increasing flight capacity and frequency into the Bahamas.

This is being viewed as essential to ensuring this nation has enough airlift capacity for when the 1,500 net room increase resulting from the $2.6 billion Baha Mar project comes online in December 2014.

Mr Markantonis was part of a similar delegation that met with Delta Airlines in Atlanta earlier this month, and he said the airline had been surprised, "because generally you do not have a destination showing up in such a unified manner".

Explaining that the Bahamas had effectively been "tenderising" for more airlift, and ensuring it was part of Delta's plans before it drew up route schedules and bought planes, Mr Markantonis said: "We have to start now, and can't wait for 2014."

The Tribune,
Published: May 18, 2012