Cuba: Immediate threat to 20% of Bahamas’ visitors

havana-live-Better in the BahamasHAVANA,  June 24    Cuba’s opening will immediately threaten more than 20 per cent of the Bahamas’ stopover visitor market, it has been revealed, amid calls for a ‘tourism trade agreement’ with the US to mitigate the impact of its ‘diplomatic reset’ with Havana.

The implications for the Bahamas’ number one industry, and other Caribbean nations, are discussed at length by a newly-released Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) paper, which describes Cuba’s opening as “the biggest and most disruptive pebble to be dropped into the Caribbean pool in 50 years”. The CHTA paper, in particular, warns that Cuba’s proximity to the US will act as an immediate draw for Florida’s ‘impulse’ traveller market, which currently gravitates to the Bahamas for short-term stopover vacations.

“As it relates to the state of Florida as a source market, Cuba’s location will draw the attention of those travellers who have traditionally travelled spontaneously and impulsively to the Bahamas, a country which has relied on Florida for generating over 20 per cent of its arrivals for some time,” the CHTA paper warned.

“A not insignificant proportion of those arrivals from Florida to the Bahamas also results from surreptitious travel by US citizens to Cuba, and the airlines benefiting from those transactions will likely lose out.”

The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) has already shown itself to be alive to the implications of the thaw in US-Cuba relations, and the eventual full opening of the latter’s tourism market to American visitors – a base that accounts traditionally for 80-85 per cent of this nation’s total stopover visitors.