A National Tourism Development Strategy 2017-2022
“We envision the development of our nation as a collection of diverse yet easily accessible islands, each of which is globally celebrated for the delightful experiences that it provides for visitors and for the sustainable economic and social benefits that it brings to our investors and residents.”
Tourism is the leading sector in the Bahamian economy. The industry contributes over 60% of GDP and an equally sizable share of total employment. The sector, based on a “sun, sand and sea” model, is extremely concentrated, with over 70% of tourists originating from the United States visiting New Providence or Nassau as the capital is called and to a more limited extent Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera and Exuma. Tourism in The Bahamas is organized around a growing, but low value cruise market (comprised of ports of call at Nassau and Grand Bahama as well as individual private islands) and a stagnant, but higher value stopover/hotel market. The Bahamian tourism model is heavily dependent on foreign direct investments in hotels and resorts; although some small Bahamian owned properties do exist. There are weak linkages to the local economy, including agriculture and the cultural economy, it is heavily dependent upon imports from the USA. The Bahamas is facing competition from other destinations and its major threats arise from its relatively high costs, low productivity, increasing security concerns, environmental and solid waste management challenges. Growth in the long stay category is well below the Caribbean growth rate of 7%. Building domestic capacity, sourcing a higher percentage of goods and services locally, building additional attractions and by improving linkages between foreign investors and domestic firms could strengthening local linkages and improve the tourism value chain. This would increase the multiplier effect and improve the developmental and economic impact of tourism. Visitor spend in The Bahamas has been on a downward trajectory and was just over $82 (cruise) and $1300 (long-stay) per visitor in 2015. St. Maarten generated $191(cruise) in 2015. While there is significant potential for growth in this market through product and market diversification, particularly in the Out Islands, infrastructure and capital (human and financial) challenges must be resolved to maximize the value that can be extracted. Other challenges facing the tourism product include inadequate investment in heritage assets and culture, limited attractions and activities and a need to strengthen the service culture in the country. The Islands Of The Bahamas (TIOTB) National Tourism Development Strategy 2017-2022 is a comprehensive blue print to improve and redevelop tourism in The Bahamas over the next 5 years. It concludes with a five-year action plan which serves as a guide to achieve the strategic objectives.