D’Aguilar: Increasing tourist spend on islands crucial as cruises restart

With cruise tourism set to return, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that the government and private sector have to continue to work at increasing the tourist spend in the country, by developing more attractions for visitors on New Providence and the Family Islands.

D’Aguilar, who made the comment during an appearance on Morning Blend Business on Guardian Radio, explained that increasing attractions on some Family Islands is even more vital now that Crystal Cruises will taking passengers to islands that cruises lines have not visited before.

Crystal Cruises plans to begin its all-Bahamas itinerary in July. D’Aguilar said the logistics of what onshore excursions exist on an island like Long Island and how they will work are still “going to have to be worked out”.

He said, though, that the issue of there not being enough things to do on Family Islands for visitors is “age-old”.

“Pre-COVID we grappled with this issue,” D’Aguilar said.

“Pre-COVID there were 10,000 passengers every single day that came into the Port of Nassau.

“How do you deepen the connection between the tourism economy and our local economy?

“How do you get more than the 20 cents that they traditionally spend in our country to increase… instead of 80 cents going back out to the United States to import goods and services to provide to our visitors?”

According to D’Aguilar, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA) is “making significant strides in that area to deepen that spend in the local economy”, especially through the work of the Tourism Development Corporation, which seeks to create the linkages between businesses and the cruise lines.

While the logistical problems related to creating tours for islands that have not had cruise passengers before exist, D’Aguilar said the MOTA is “excited to explore this”.

“Let’s see how those passengers can put some money into those economies,” he said. 

“Enterprising Bahamians have created their own tours. They’ve gone on these online platforms to promote their tours.”