Written by 3:35 pm Travel

WEALTH OF INFO: Travel health visa a “powerful tool” in tourism marketing efforts, says minister

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that while the health visa requirement has had some impact on tourism arrivals, it serves as a really powerful tool for his ministry’s marketing efforts.

D’Aguilar, who was addressing a virtual meeting of the Rotary Club of South East Nassau, noted that applications for the health visa are continuing to rise.

In keeping with the minister, the health visa has given the Ministry of Tourism a “wealth of knowledge” on people visiting the country, which it might probably utilize in its internet marketing efforts.

Dionisio D’Aguilar.

“If there’s one profit to that, it’s a really powerful tool because it pertains to marketing,” said D’Aguilar.

As of May 1, international visitors traveling to The Bahamas from other countries, who’re fully vaccinated and have passed the two-week immunity period, are exempted from testing requirements for entry and inter-island travel.

On the heels of that announcement, the tourism minister noted there was a surge of health visa applications, which overwhelmed the system. He noted the federal government has since made the obligatory adjustments to handle all requests.

D’Aguilar projected that the variety of health visa applications this month will likely be within the mid-70,000 range, noting that there have been 64,000 such applications in April and 60,000 in March.

“Chatting with the hotels, the key ones — Atlantis and Baha Mar — they’re reporting to me that the pace of their bookings is encouraging,” said D’Aguilar.

“The pace is quicker than it was in 2019 but that doesn’t mean they may have the identical occupancy. Persons are searching for a chance to travel and, luckily for us, the US has done a superb job of rolling out their vaccine.”

D’Aguilar noted that one component of the tourism market that has not been as severely impacted by the pandemic is the high-end market.

“They’ve been coming here in droves on their private jets and their yachts. That component has been less impacted. They’ve been capable of navigate the restrictions more easily,” said D’Aguilar.

The tourism minister lamented, nonetheless, that the country is in a “horrible” fiscal position.

“We’re in a horrible financial position, actually with the (fiscal) 12 months about to finish,” said D’Aguilar.

“We’re going to be roughly $1.7 billion and we’re going to spend $3 billion so we’re running a deficit of $1.3 billion, which is large. It’s unprecedented. The pandemic has driven the deficit up an enormous amount.”

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