Bustling with a diverse demographic of clientele, Port Lucaya has seen an inflow of one-day cruise ship passengers, spring breakers making the most of their college holiday experience, as well as families enjoying the amenities of surrounding hotels.
Needless to say, this bodes well not only for the marketplace and its tenants, but for residents and businesses of the island at large.
According to local tour operators, the New Year has brought increased tour activity as a result of the high occupancy levels at surrounding hotels and the influx of cruise and flight passengers.
Local businessman and recipient of Carnival Cruise Line’s Tour Operator of the Year Award, Hadley Forbes, expressed his enthusiasm on the upswing of guest arrivals.
“Freeport is looking like the ‘good old days’ and I believe that this is the reward of private/public partnership efforts in promoting the island.
“As a businessman, to be a part of the guest experience and to see the tourism numbers rebounding in such an impactful way is encouraging,” Forbes said. “I’ve been involved in the hospitality and tourism industry for many years, and the magic is returning.” he continued. “Make no mistake however; success like this comes as a result of much effort and promotion. As a company, we tirelessly promote the city of Freeport; we’ve done so in partnership with GBPA and government, as well as independently. The benefit of increased tourism activity is the reward of unseen efforts; but it benefits everyone.” Forbes concluded.
Ian Rolle, President of The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA), believes that the high numbers will continue, especially as it relates to cruise visitors. “Freeport’s tourism product has seen phenomenal growth in recent years,” he said. “New and unique tours have been introduced and tour providers have indeed stepped up their game to cater to our cruise passengers,” Rolle explained. “I see this as one of the main reasons for the increased cruise and ferry traffic; the other reason being our proximity to US home ports and the high cost of fuel,” cited Rolle. “Either way, this increase in tourism traffic is great for businesses, and we will continue to work to see the levels continue.”
“The marketplace has long been a hotspot for visiting guests,” stated Derek Newbold, GBPA’s Senior Manager of Business Development. “And I must say that it’s encouraging to see the high volume of traffic, which spans the entire Port Lucaya strip, covering the marketplace and straw market areas,” Newbold continued.
“We anticipated a strong rebound in the tourism sector and that is why we spearheaded initiatives such as the Opportunity Awareness and Training Seminar (OATS) several years ago, which gave existing and would be tour operators first hand access to industry information and direction from top executives in the industry,” he added.
Booking statistics show hotel occupancy numbers are way up for the island. Cruise arrivals for next year are projected to be even better than this year, and air arrivals are expected to remain strong. With both government and GBPA officials optimistic that these levels will continue, residents and businesses can look forward to a positive 2015 year.