Tourism’s “mind blowing” growth for the eleven months ending November 30, 2018 accounted for $300 million in additional spending into the Bahamian economy, Minister of Tourism & Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar told House Members, Wednesday (February 6, 2019). Mr. D’Aguilar said the new growth has also had an added impact on job creation within the Commonwealth, accounting for 10,405 new jobs. Much of this growth he said, was created in the Private Sector and in the number of self-employed persons. Seconding the Resolution to Adopt the Fiscal Strategy Report, Mr. D’Aguilar said preliminary data reveal that the number of foreign visitors to The Bahamas increased by “a whopping” 425,000 persons or 7.7 per cent for the eleven months ending November 30, 2018.
Minister D’Aguilar said, more importantly, stopover visitors, that portion of foreign visitors that spend the most “in fact 20 times more than the cruise passenger” increased by over 205,000 persons or what the Minister termed “a mind-blowing 17.1 percent.” “These additional visitors contributed over $300 million of additional spending into our economy in 2018,” Minister D’Aguilar said. Mr. D’Aguilar said the increases in Stopover Visitors, as reported in the Caribbean Journal, were spread across The Bahamas with Abaco up by 17.6 percent; Eleuthera (up by 28.5 per cent), the Berry Islands (up by 18.9 per cent), San Salvador (up by 8.8 per cent); Andros (up by 8.8 percent); Grand Bahama (up by 3.2 per cent) and Exuma up by 1 per cent, “but up nonetheless,” Minister D’Aguilar said.
The Tourism Minister said projections for January and February, 2019 indicate that the number of stopover visitors to The Bahamas will continue to grow by 15 per cent in January and 12 per cent in February.Minister D’Aguilar said the country’s success was due in large part to the staff of the Ministry of Tourism whom he said “have been doing a wonderful job.” “Even though I sit at the top of the pyramid, the staff at the Ministry of Tourism, once you let them get on with it, they shine and they have been truly impressive and so the accolades that I take on their behalf is really due to them and so I pass it on to them.” Minister D’Aguilar said all of the new growth in tourism has had an added impact on job creation within the Commonwealth, accounting for the aforementioned 10,405 new jobs. “According to the Labour Report just released, there were 200,155 employed in May, 2017, when we took office and there were 210,560 persons employed in November, 2018 – an increase of 10,405.
“What is so heartening to see also, is that the employment gains were driven by the Private Sector and growth in the number of Self-Employed persons and not by the government. Mr. Speaker, this Minnis-led Administration is turning things around.”Minister D’Aguilar said he supported the Resolution to Adopt the Fiscal Strategy Report. “The Report shows it all,” Mr. D’Aguilar said. “It tells you how well or how poorly we perform. The Report shows you our plan for the fiscal affairs of the country. You can see for yourself. We have nothing to hide. We are holding ourselves accountable to the Bahamian people. We are being open and transparent. That is what you voted for us to do and that is what, with the adoption of this Report, we are now doing,” Minister D’Aguilar added.