18 NOV 2010: Some folks around during the seventies might recognize a familiar face. Back then Bahamian David Johnson flew up to these northern climes as part of his country’s pilot sales training program for execs. The close proximity and the independence drive in ’73 he says all brought “us to where we are today.”


Now the new Director General of Tourism, Johnson has plenty to smile about. An increase in Canadian arrivals, new ad campaigns with dirt bottom prices are all part of it.

“Business is growing the fastest in Canada. Currently there is a 13% increase growth up over last year at this time while the United States has only seen a 6% increase,” he noted at a press luncheon and described Ontario with the biggest increase of 15 percent while Alberta takes second up by 6%.

So, is it really better in the Bahamas? Try three reasons:

Golfer’s Paradise


Bahamas is the Golf Capital they tell me. So picture teeing up as many times as you like at two championship 18-hole golf courses, a Robert Trent Jones designed and a Dick Wilson creation, for free.

Clients can book their getaway today till November 30 with WestJet Vacations and golf to their heart’s content when they stay for four nights between October 31 and January 15, 2011.

The rush-hour after 5 pm panic along the Path by Brookfield Place will look a lot greener too these days. Commuters will see a full-blown Bahamas golf course ad campaign.

Rebates

The season’s hottest deal to beat the fall blues is an instant $300 rebate on air when booking air+ hotel for four or more nights at the 25+ resorts in the Bahamas. The offer is valid for bookings made now through December 1, for travel anytime until June 30, 2011.

Economic Stability

Bahamas was lucky. It did not encounter the global collapse in real estate or its banks, noted Johnson. “Our banks won’t allow you to get over extended loans,” he said about real estate purchases.

Latest Offerings

Watch for a new gateway planned for completion by the end of 2011. The $400-million investment will have phase 1 open in March 2011 with phase 2 ready to open in December. In addition to a new international airport, visitors can also expect a new domestic airport in 2012.

Expect more cruising. The cruise business is big. With so many ports from which to choose (imagine six ports in The Bahamas for cruise ship arrivals alone), Johnson says 60% are cruises that hang out in Bahamas waters for four nights and have itineraries specific to The Bahamas.

A $44-million dredging operation of the Nassau Harbour has been completed and is ready for the mega cruise ships like the Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis of the Seas” and its sister ship “Allure of the Seas” which is expected to arrive this December.

“Downtown turn around” is how Johnson describes the revitalization project by the Grand Bahama Port Authority. Another long anticipated reopening is the Straw Market in March 2011.


Images: Top: Paul Strachan, Director Business Development - Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Janet Johnson-Cuffie, National Manager - Bahamas Tourist Office Canada , David Johnson, Director General - Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Ambrose J. Morris – Regional Manager

Bottom: Paul Strachan, Director Business Development - Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Janet Johnson-Cuffie, National Manager - Bahamas Tourist Office Canada , Cindy Gerhardt, WestJet Vacations Product Specialist, David Johnson, Director General - Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Judy Wallace, Manager Product Development Air Canada Vacations, Wayne Noseworthy, Director Product Development Thomas Cook North America

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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