NASSAU, Bahamas - The Bahamas tourism industry is expecting to rake in more than US$22 million with Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) set to take more than 100,000 tourists to the country.
Starting July, the 1,900-passenger Norwegian Sky will provide three and four-day cruises with twice-weekly calls on Nassau, Great Sturrup Cay and a once-weekly call on Grand Bahama Island.
Tourism Minister Neko Grant said the Bahamas was in a position to earn the money through passenger spend, with Norwegian Sky generating almost 50 per cent of this amount.
"I am pleased to report that a minimum of 42 calls are expected to Grand Bahama Island over the course of the next year. It is expected that the Norwegian Sky will make 21 calls here by the end of this year, an average of one per week delivering at least 39,900 passengers," he said.
He said that Government Head Tax projections from the Norwegian Sky is expected to be in the region of US$7.98 million over the one year period, total Head Tax projections from all NCL ships visiting the Bahamas over the next year and a half is estimated at US$21.49 million.
Mr Grant added that his ministry would be looking at revamping existing tourist offerings and increasing the variety and quality of on-shore excursions available to arriving cruise passengers.
"Today's visitors are more discerning. They are looking for new and exciting experiences in a friendly, safe environment, which offers a variety of soft adventures and interesting attractions, at reasonable prices - and, given the current economic environment, the closer to home, the better," he said.
"My ministry's goal for this sector is to deliver a satisfying and sustainable destination experience for cruise passengers, and sustainable relationships with the cruise industry which will result in increased calls and on-island spend per cruise passenger."
He added that improving service levels would also convert into repeat visitors and therefore greater tourism earnings for the country.
"Increasing passenger spend will only happen if we do our jobs well. This includes the need to provide more authentic Bahamian experiences as well as a critical requirement for improved service standards in our resorts, our restaurants, our shops, our taxis and our bus systems," the Tourism Minister said.
Originally published at caribbean360.com; May 26, 2008