Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Members of the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) reaffirmed their commitment to last year’s leadership by re-electing the 2011 team for another year. The election was held last month at the organization’s 59th Annual General Meeting, which was followed by a luncheon, where the Prime Minister offered the keynote address.
Stuart Bowe, senior vice president at Atlantis Paradise Island, was re-elected president. “I wish to thank the members, our executive committee, and our staff for giving me the opportunity to serve as your president in 2011,” he said.
“It has been a year of positive change and continued challenges both for BHA and our industry.”
Bowe pointed to the continued trend of marginal improvement industry-wide. He reported that while overall stopover visitors will likely end down slightly in 2011, room occupancy and room rates continued to inch upward.
Both room occupancies and room rates from 2007 to 2011 for the January-July period showed that recovery has continued in 2011, with room occupancies improving for that period in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Family Islands showed the greatest proportional improvement; Nassau and Paradise Island (NPI) had marginal improvement, and Grand Bahama experienced a dip in 2010, but rebounded in 2011.
Bowe also said that July room rates in NPI from 2007 to 2011 recovered much of the rate loss, after bottoming out in 2009. Grand Bahama and the Family Island properties have not been as fortunate and while their room occupancy increase levels fared better than Nassau between 2008 and 2011, their rates have not.
“The trends suggest overall marginal improvement in revenue and occupancy for the destination. The variances with the NPI hotels are likely attributed to a return of group business to near pre-recession levels, which benefit the NPI hotels due to their focus on this business; coupled with easier air access and the promotional offers they are able to provide with airlines to reduce the overall travel cost.”
Regionally, Bowe reported, according to Smith Travel Research 2011 year-to-date to October, hotels in The Bahamas reported a 6.2 per cent increase in room occupancy over 2010–which is the fourth highest increase in the region behind Turks and Caicos, Cancun and Curacao.
“So, we are, comparatively, holding our own and continuing to show marginal improvement. As we look at NPI major hotel performance through November, data supports this. It also shows less than projected performance levels for January and August-September, which we mostly attribute to bad weather.”
On the positive side, he reported that additional airlift has continued to help industry performance. This includes the Copa Airline flights now linking The Bahamas to Latin America, as well as the introduction of additional services out of the New York City area from JetBlue and soon from Delta Air Lines.
“The Family Islands have seen some increase in airlift, as has Grand Bahama and we are hopeful that this will continue in 2012,” he said.
Bowe commended the promotion boards, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, and the Nassau Airport Development Co, all which are actively working on new airlift developments.
“We are also encouraged by the airport improvements in Nassau and Abaco, and other initiatives underway, including changes in historic Nassau, which will improve our overall product and appeal,” Bowe added.
Bowe went on to say that “the availability of qualified workers will present a challenge to all businesses in The Bahamas as Baha Mar nears completion. While efforts are already underway by various stakeholders to prepare for this, additional emphasis must be placed on education and training to minimize the impact and create opportunities for young Bahamians and upgrading of the skills of our existing workforce.”
At the meeting, members were provided with BHA’s 2011 Activity Report, which outlined the range of activities the organization engaged in throughout the year and also listed more than 300 volunteers, who have worked with BHA on its various projects and programs.
In addressing the nearly 200 attendees, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham detailed a number of measures that the government has put in place, or is planning, to support the tourism industry’s long-term growth and sustainability.
“I believe that when historians look back at the effects on The Bahamas of what has been the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, I believe that they will take note of the resilience and ingenuity of both the private and public sectors. They will note that we moved from crisis to opportunity, and finally took and carried out big decisions and decisive actions needed to place it on track for long term sustainability,” he said.
Describing investments in airports in Nassau and Marsh Harbour, additional airlift and new gateways for a number of islands, road and utilities improvements, the revitalization of Nassau, and other initiatives, the Prime Minister also commended the industry for its collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism on promotional efforts, which have helped to minimize the impact of the recession.