President of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Stuart Bowe said that stakeholders in the tourism industry are waiting to hear how the government’s budget allocation for 2016/2017 will affect operating costs and the cost of travel. He also spoke about the importance of increasing airlift in anticipation of the opening of the $3.5 billion Baha Mar mega resort. Bowe told Guardian Business last week that the two primary costs for any industry are the cost of labor and utilities. Yesterday, he added that operating costs and the cost of travel are also important.
“Historically, we dealt with travel in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism. So obviously the budget is being debated, so we await the outcome of that to see what funding is available for us to merge along with the Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board and work on new market initiatives,” said Bowe.
Bowe spoke to ongoing marketing initiatives like the “fly free” credits to The Bahamas promotion.
“We have to be a lot more creative to ensure that the monies we do spend gets a return on our investments because the things of the past are obviously not going to work as they would in the future,” said Bowe.
He went on to talk about the opening of Baha Mar and its affect on airlift in The Bahamas.
“We have the airlift capacity right now. Much of what we are doing is for the future. We all anticipated the opening of Baha Mar. So, all of the efforts were in anticipation of building airlift to ensure Baha Mar ran at a certain occupancy. So as we speak, there has been some increase in airlift,” said Bowe.
However, he said that when Baha Mar opens, there would need to be an increase of roughly 1,000 seats a day. “We need to increase to 1,000 seats additionally per day to ensure that we can achieve our needs when we bring on 2,400 new rooms,” he said.
He added that it would not be a challenge to achieve an increase in airlifts if there is a collective effort within the tourism sector.
The Nassau Guardian
Published: June 20, 2016