Director General in The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu, revealed yesterday that the Ministry’s aggressive campaign to attract visitors to The Bahamas and strengthen the country’s market share is paying dividends.
During a press conference in the British Colonial Hilton, Jibrilu, flanked by Permanent Secretary Harrison Thompson and Deputy Director General Ellison ‘Tommy’ Thompson, noted that the country is seeing increased interest from tourists around the world.
Jibrilu revealed that visitor arrivals are trending upward. “In the first quarter of 2016 overall air arrivals to The Bahamas registered an increase of 2.2 percent over the same period last year,” she said. “In the first quarter of 2015, our air arrivals numbers were at 375,962.
“Between January and March of this year, we received a little over 8,000 more air visitors, or a total of 384,324 for the first quarter of 2016. As we look back at the comparison in spend between air and cruise visitors, we see that we are going in the right direction.”
While noting that there was a 1.3 percent decrease in cruise passengers in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015, Jibrilu said those numbers are now trending upwards.
The Director General also highlighted several key initiatives that The Ministry is spearheading in 2016.
The first is the International Women’s Empowerment Summit slated for October. “Under the theme, “Empowering Women to Pursue their Dreams,” women from around the world and the Caribbean will meet in this forum for two days of transformative presentations and interactions,” she said. “A conservative estimate of attendees expected at this Summit is 400 to 500 people.
“This conference is another invaluable opportunity for us to showcase the best of our destination to high net worth individuals.” On the roster of summit presenters are renowned speakers such as Folorunsho Alakija, Baroness Michelle Mone, Cynthia Garrett, Charlotte Tilbury, and Melissa Odabash as well as several Bahamian speakers.”
Sixteen new Bahamas Posters were also unveiled, each telling the story of a Bahamas Family Island. Jibrilu stated that the Ministry has crafted a marketing campaign to capitalize on the distinctiveness of each of our major island destinations. She said the idea is really to market the country not as a block but as 16 individual islands.
“Airlift is critical to developing our tourism industry and 2015/2016 has proven to be a banner year for the addition of airlift,” she said.
Noting new connections and added flights from the U.S. and Europe, Jibrilu said the Ministry is aggressively seeking to add as many flights to The Bahamas as it can. “The Ministry of Tourism is actively pursuing negotiations for direct flights to Nassau from Continental Europe and West Coast, USA,” she said.
As social media continues to be an explosive component of marketing The Bahamas, Jibrilu pointed out the power of “organic advertising” from socialites and celebrities.
“Astronaut Scott Kelly’s Bahamas tweets from space about the beauty of The Bahamas was a true highlight,” she said. “Over 251,000 stories were written globally about this.” She also confirmed that Kelly and his family will visit the country in August.
Jibrilu also pointed out that The Bahamas continues to be one of the leading countries in the world for weddings. “In 2015, The Bahamas won the World Tourism Award for Leading Wedding Destination,” she said.
“Building on this reputation the “16 Weddings” invitation promotion, which was launched in Toronto on February 18, 2016, will further solidify The Bahamas as the premier destination for weddings and honeymoons as 16 Canadian couples tie the knot on November 16, 2016 in the 16 islands of The Bahamas.”
Jibrilu said The Bahamas is a consistent brand that is known throughout the world.
“We do not market in Scandinavia. A survey was done, not by us, just to get a sense of the awareness of The Bahamas. Out of that survey 87 percent of people recognized The Bahamas, way above any other country in the region. So that was just the name Bahamas.”
Jibrilu said the Ministry of Tourism remains resolute to market the country as a destination with diversity and grit.