While countrywide The Bahamas saw a slight improvement of 1.1 percent in visitor arrivals by air and seas during the first four months of 2014, Abaco has not fared as well, seeing a decline of 3.9 percent in the same period.
Statistical data from the Ministry of Tourism showed arrivals moving up to 2.32 million from 2.29 million for the same period and in the key high-value stopover segment, visitor arrivals, overall, were up 3.1 percent, to 476, 367, in the period.
However, Abaco’s stop over visits fell to 25,790 from 26,835 in the same period last year with March seeing the largest decrease in arrivals as only 8,611 visitors arrived to the island as opposed to 10,427 in the same month last year, reflecting a fall of 17.4 percent. The Easter Holiday falling in March last year and in April this year is partly to blame for the significant decline, as April’s numbers were up by 13.1 percent over last year’s arrivals.
The official statistics reveal that Grand Bahama saw the largest increase with a 33.2 percent rise in air arrivals during the first four months. They are followed by San Salvador who saw a 21 percent rise, Long Island with a 20 percent increase, Exuma saw a 14 percent increase, Bimini saw a 13.8 percent rise; and Andros experienced a 7.1 percent rise.
Aside from Abaco, other destinations seeing a decline include Cat Island, down 10 percent, the Berry Islands, down 7.5 percent, and Eleuthera, which took a 1.7 percent hit.
The Family Islands overall recorded a four percent hike in air arrivals during the period leading up to the end of April 2014. However, Grand Bahama’s growth in air arrivals was offset by a 30.7 percent fall in its sea arrivals, for a net loss of -22.9 percent.
The figures were provided by the Ministry of Tourism’s Research and Statistics Department and are the latest available. They are based on manual counts of immigration cards and include all foreign visitor arrivals, excluding returning residents and ship crew.
The overall increase comes after The Bahamas experienced overall growth in tourist arrivals of 3.54 percent for 2013 overall, with one percent growth in stopover visitors and the remainder made up of sea and cruise arrivals.
The country continues to rely heavily on the U.S. as the major source of visitors with 78 percent of stopover visitors coming from the U.S., nine percent from Canada and six percent from Europe. The Bahamas also gets one percent came from the Caribbean, two percent from Latin America and three percent from the rest of the world.
Visitor surveys revealed that 94 percent of stopover visitors said they were likely to recommend the destination to friends and family, including 94 percent of those visiting Nassau/Paradise Island, 92 percent of those who went to Grand Bahama, and 97 percent who visited the Out Islands.
Customer satisfaction surveys revealed that approximately nine out of 10 visitors (89 percent) to The Bahamas in 2013 said they were likely to return, including 88 percent of those visiting Nassau/Paradise Island, 87 percent visiting Grand Bahama and 91 percent who went to the Out Islands.
Two in every three visitors to the Out Islands had been before, while more than half of those who came to Nassau/Paradise Island and Grand Bahama had.
Stopovers were influenced to visit The Bahamas because of the beaches (64 percent), climate (55 percent) and rest and relaxation (40 percent). For Grand Bahama, good package deals and the perception that they would receive the best value for money were also major influences. For the Out Islands sports, friendly people and safety of the islands were also major influences. Some also mentioned the desire to go to a casino or on an island tour.