Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New markets, new business



We're always excited to read about interest from new markets, because tourist visitors who come to experience the Bahamas even just once may become seriously interested in investing or settling down here in the future.

A news piece from the Nassau Guardian on January 10 said eleven Russian buyers are to attend Caribbean Marketplace 2012, an important travel trade show hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) that's going to take place January 22-24 at the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island. A total of 116 buyers from around the world are coming to meet with 26 suppliers from around the Caribbean region. These meetings can create new and positive impressions for the Bahamas as the ultimate destination. We hope these meetings will  turn into new and repeat business for our friends in the travel agency, hotel, and resort business.

Another piece published the day before that pointed out that China is on its way to simplifying the visa application process for Chinese tourists headed to the Bahamas. We've been open to international investments - the US$2.6 billion Baha Mar resort and casino project in New Providence, which is being financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and constructed by another China firm, is one important example. Now, although based on the piece we think it will take more than facilitating the visa process to encourage more Chinese visitors, we'd like to think each step is a step in the right direction. If this means new airlinks or charter flights into our islands, then so be it - we're all for it.

Many Chinese and Russian visitors represent a vastly untapped, newly affluent traveling set. They've been around less than a generation and as luxury spenders have only recently been finding their way everywhere - across Europe, the US, and Asia. They are looking for new and exotic destinations and are interested in long-stay visits, which means they have a chance to get to know their destination well. That represents great potential opportunity for us.

Visitors to our islands are spoilt for choice; they can come here by plane or perhaps experience the Bahamas as a world-class cruise destination.

Now before I go, here's a brief postscript on the Bahamas Express ferry ride we were discussing last week. Bale├ária is now offering the return trip to Florida at $49.50 (taxes excluded). Check their website, www.ferryexpress.com, to reserve seats.

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