While addressing Abaconians at a town meeting in Marsh Harbour, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar noted that while overall tourism numbers were up, marina operators were seeing an exceptional rise in business.
Noting the damage to the Eastern Caribbean caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Mr. D’Aguilar said that it seems that has led to many of the tourists expected to go there having diverted to the islands of The Bahamas, and Abaco in particular.
He said the based on the first eight months of this year the maritime sector – which includes sail boaters and cruisers – is having its best year since being in existence, adding that the challenge is now to keep them here.
The Ministry of Tourism’s Senior Manager responsible for the Boating Sector, Richard Treco said that Bahamian marinas believe 2018 could produce a 50 percent year-over-year increase in visiting boaters as the country moves to generate further interest in this sector.
“In 2018, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation saw boating numbers double in some islands, and saw an overall increase in numbers for the same periods in 2017,” said Mr. Treco.
“In 2016 we accommodated some 18,595 pleasure boaters, and in 2017 that number increased to 21,090 pleasure boaters. From all indications, and based on the 2018 boating performance thus far, we anticipate that 2018 will exceed the previous year’s performance by as much as 50 percent.
“No other vertical market provides the economic level of spin-offs into the communities that boating does,” he continued. “It has the greatest economic impact in our Family Islands and truly trickles down to every sector in our communities from the marina shop operator, fuel provider, restaurant and hotel operator, to the ‘mom and pop’ sundry store.”
Molly McIntosh, general manager at the Bluff House Beach Resort & Marina in Green Turtle Cay, said 2018 was a busy year for her 40-slip marina also. “We saw business levels increase by at least 20 percent for the period October 2017 to October 2018,” she said.
“The Incredibly great weather conditions in The Bahamas, coupled with a strong and vibrant US economy, have definitely contributed to the business success we have received this year. Additionally, we have seen a heavy return of past customers, some of whom were absent for almost 15 years.”