Preliminary Ministry of Tourism (MOT) data in The Central Bank of The Bahamas’ (CBOB) Monthly Economic Financial Developments (MEFD) report for November 2021 shows that visitor arrivals to the island by air and sea in October reached 260,942 compared to 265,799 in 2019.

The report notes that with those visitor numbers near pre-pandemic levels, the tourism sector remains in a “gradual pace of recovery”.

The MEFD report further notes that the tourism sector continues to face headwinds as the COVID-19 pandemic, with its new variants, continues to wreak havoc on global travel.

The increase in arrivals was drastic when matched against 2020 arrival numbers for October, which was recorded at 7,666. “Disaggregated by major market, total arrivals to New Providence grew to 140,581 from just 2,359 a year earlier,” the MEFD report states.

“Underlying this development, the air and sea segments measured 44,083 and 96,498, respectively. Foreign arrivals to Grand Bahama increased to 13,996, compared to only 476 in the preceding year, as air and sea arrivals amounted to 1,407 and 12,589, respectively.

“Furthermore, total traffic to the Family Islands strengthened to 106,365, vis-à-vis 4,831 in the prior year, owing to gains in the air and sea components to 11,385 and 94,980, respectively.” The report states that given the cruise sector restart in the second half of this year, cruise travel to The Bahamas was still 30.9 percent down compared to 2019 levels. It adds that 2020 showed a 70.5 percent reduction over the same review period.

The report also notes that air arrivals to date grew by 79.8 percent compared to the 73.4 percent contraction in 2020. “The most recent data provided by the Nassau Airport Development Company Limited (NAD) revealed that total departures – net of domestic passengers – advanced to 79,055 in November, from 9,777 in the corresponding month of 2020,” the report states.

“Specifically, US departures increased to 68,425 from 7,800 in the preceding year; while non-US departures rose to 10,630 from 1,977 in 2020. On a year-to-date basis, outward bound traffic grew by 64.9 percent, contrasting with a 73.1 percent reduction last year.

“Underpinning this outcome, US departures moved higher by 83.8 percent, after a 74.1 percent falloff in the previous year. In contrast, the decline in non-US departures moderated to 30 percent, relative to 66.9 percent in the prior period.”

The MEFD report reveals that in the vacation rental market, room nights sold more than doubled in November to 95,440, from 39,917 year-on-year.