SOME 87 per cent of small Bahamian hotels in the Family Islands are not realising their potential because they do not accept credit card booking payments online, Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) president, Stuart Bowe, said yesterday.
He expressed confidence, though, that easy and cost-effective online transactions were imminent, as Bank of the Bahamas International yesterday launched its e-commerce platform, billed as the first in the nation to fully facilitate online payments in Bahamian dollars.
The BHA president said this platform would help to tackle some of the issues that have prevented many smaller properties from realising their booking potential.
Mr Bowe, responding to questions raised by Tribune Business, said: "Many of our small hotels, particularly in the Family Islands, are not realising their reservations booking potential because consumers cannot book transactions online with a credit card.
"Historically, several factors have contributed to this issue. Firstly, not having a Bahamian-based bank with the infrastructural support to facilitate the transaction; secondly, high fees when online travel agents are utilised or routing transactions internationally through another bank or service; and thirdly, inconsistent and unreliable telecommunications services."
Mr Bowe added: "The Bank of the Bahamas is offering solutions to the first two issues. Coupled with an online booking solution that the Ministry of Tourism is working on, we're confident that easy and cost-effective online transactions are imminent.
"The BHA first started discussions on online booking solutions with the bank over three years ago through our small hotels task force. Research conducted in 2007 through an Inter-American Development Bank-supported sustainable tourism project (STEMM) revealed that 87 per cent of 69 small hotels surveyed from eight islands did not accept credit cards online.
"We have had discussions with the bank regarding the roll-out of this important service. They have made presentations to both BHA and the Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board. Over the coming months we will work closely with the bank in support of the roll out of the new service."
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2012