As the Caribbean nation comprised of 700 islands continues to see growth in visitor arrivals from Canada, the key message at a special event yesterday was, "It truly is better in the Bahamas."
Minister of Tourism Obediah Wilchcombe paid a visit to Toronto in an effort to offer thanks to top tour operator partners, including Sunwing, Air Canada Vacations, WestJet Vacations and Sunquest, for continued support in the development of the Bahamas' tourism product.
Director General Joy Ann Jibrilu and Deputy Director General Ellison Thompson were also on hand for the event, which showcased the increasing popularity of the destination, in addition to the successful efforts of the Bahamas Tourism Office in Canada led by Director Paul Strachan.
"Our job at the Ministry of Tourism is to facilitate the development, promotion, sales and delivery of desirable tourism products, services and amenities," Jibrilu said in her address to guests. "Nature provides the template and has graced us with sun, sand, sea and the most jovial and welcoming people in the world."
"Partnerships, such as we have with Air Canada Vacations, Sunwing, WestJet and Sunquest allow us to share these gifts with the world, and more specifically with Canadians from the east coast through to the west," she continued. "As a result of these partnerships, more people from across the wide reaches of the Canadian landscape are being made aware of how easy it is to get on an airplane and in a matter of a few hours they are enjoying the balmy breezes and warm sunshine of a tranquil Bahamian island."
Year-over-year, arrivals from Canada increased nearly 10 per cent from 2013 from January to August, with that upwards trend expected to continue into peak season.
Wilchcombe highlighted the emergence of lesser-known areas of the Bahamas, including Exuma and his home, Grand Bahamas, which are now welcoming more tourist arrivals than ever before. Part and parcel to this growth is the increase of flight service from eight Canadian gateways, with more to come - service to Grand Bahama Island on Sunwing Airlines is set to begin from Vancouver and Calgary Nov. 1, 2014.
In addition, there is a "tremendous amount of new development," Wilchcombe said, pointing out the much-anticipated Baha Mar complex which is scheduled to open early next year in Nassau.
A national advertising campaign is also now rolling out across Canada, featuring the breadth and depth of travel options available throughout the Bahamas. Jibrilu emphasized that in addition to the traditional vacation appeal of the destination, travellers can also find great cuisine, soft adventure, plus culture and history. "We assess every aspect of our tourism product seeking out areas for improvement, from investment and planning, to human resources and service delivery," she said, noting this is all in an effort to help partners sell the destination better.
"And so, as we move forward boldly into the middle of this decade, it is with a spirit of great anticipation for unrelenting growth well into the future. Our aggregate expertise and creativity joined with continuous and strengthening partnerships with you our Canadian friends."