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Tourism in The Bahamas

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    Can the Bahamas survive without branching into other areas of tourism? The tourism industry today is big business for a country, it is the number one industry of the Bahamas. It is the migration of individuals from one place to another for a short period of time. There are two types of tourism, domestic and foreign. People travel for recreation, business, sports, education and for religious or medical purposes. Tourism is a very competitive industry. It accounts for seventy percent of the country’s national income and employs fifty percent of the population. Therefore it must be evaluated, upgraded and planned carefully in order to complete and keep our number on industry, This paper will show when and who it recognized as a tourist destination and how it was developed and grew over the years. This would be the history aspect of tourism. The Bahamas is a beautiful country known for its beaches, sun and crystal clear waters. It is a chain of islands with much to offer especially when it comes to nature. Therefore this paper will show why tourism should be diversified based on its economic impact. I will explain the area of tourism we should branch into and its effects, and what it has to differ as a whole. This economic power that tourism has over the Bahamas will be proven by means of the library, archives, text books, notes and the internet. What would happen to The Bahamas without tourism? The results for the country could be devastating.

    History of Tourism in The Bahamas

    The location, climate and beaches of the Bahamas are the major factors that led to tourism being its number one industry. This section is about the history of the Bahamas. It will show you how government moved to developing the industry, allowing it to grow. Although there were early settlers and visitors to the Bahamas from the time of Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Bahamas was not recognized as a tourist destination until 1740. It was noted then by Peter Henry Bruce, a British engineer, during the winter seasons North Americans with health problems would come to the Bahamas because of its warm climate. During this period only the wealthy was able tot ravel to such places, so the number of visitors was small. Tourist stayed with friends or boarding houses built especially for them. There were no airline services to Nassau, only travel by boat services. The first steam ship service, the Kannak from New York to Nassau, was regular until 1859. This was a result of Government passing the Tourism Encouraging Act in 1851, paying persons or companies to provide steamship services between New York and Nassau. It was started by Samuel Cunard. This was their first move to improve the tourist industry. They built the first hotel, the royal Victoria, in 1861 during the American Civil War. It accommodated many soldiers and Blockade runners. It had a beautiful garden (which ruins still remain today) and always had some kind of entertainment going on, from the band to the straw venders. With the hotel, visitor arrivals increased to 500 a year by 1873. Tourist started coming for sailing, swimming and other fun activities. It was no longer known as a place for sickness.

    In 1870 the hotel was filled to maximum capacity hence tourism increased. However, tourism boomed during the winter months and not the summer because it was seasonal. In 1891 the Telegraph Act was passed, communication between countries was made available. Cable Beach was connected to Jupiter, Florida by wireless. In 1888 Henry Flagger and other investors encourages the government to pass the Hotel and Steamship Act. In 1900 Flagger bought the Royal Victoria Hotel and built the Colonial Hotel on the old Fort Nassau site. For the next 50 years, wealthy tourist would come to the Bahamas and would stay all winter. They used the family islands as playgrounds. In 1923, a new Colonial Hotel was built since the old one was burnt down in 1922. This time it was built by Sir Harry oaks, a wealthy Canadian. Fort Montague Beach Hotel was open in 1927. During the 19th century, as the tourism industry grew, sea planes were started by Chalks Airline. In 1929 Pan American Airways opened its first office in Nassau using seaplanes. In 1944 they switched to airplanes, In 1937 visitor arrival exceeded the population. Tourism was Booming! By 1949 arrivals was 32,000 but 17% less than in 1937. In 1941, government launched a fair displaying and showing the crafts of the outer islands. Tourism was being promoted. In 1950’s the developing board was created to promote and manage the tourism industry. Under the leadership of Sir Stanford Sands, the Father of Tourism, tourism was modernized. It was needed after the decline in visitors in World War II, when people were unable and could not afford to travel. Once Sir Stanford Sands took over, it increased by 40%. As the chairman his aims were to increase the number of visitors and make tourism a all year around business. This was made possible by the opening of the Emerald Beach hotel in 1954 with air conditioned rooms.

    The Hotels Encouragement Act was passed and more investors-wealthy persons- wanted to travel. New and afforadable aircrafts made travel cheap and easy. In order to accommodate the large number of visiors an airport was built y Windsor field. Port Nassau was completed to accommodate cruise ships. In 1967 tourism numbers was 800,000 per year. This was all due t a promotion led by Sir Stafford Sands which led to the introduction of casinos and the Freeport Lucayan Resort. As tourism grew arrivals increased to 1,072,210 in 1968. As the tourism industry developed, government allocated more money for special events abroad, an effective promotional campaign. The strategy of hotel development, promotions, communication, advertizing, cruise and airline expansion, the development board and its chairman caused tourism to be more competitive, sustainable and economical. The business and services needed to take care of the tourist was also growing. More investors came to the Bahamas and opened vacation resorts such as in Cable Beach and on Paradise Island was built, giving the Bahamas a lift. Many were employed and visitors were interested in coming to see the new Caribbean Giant. Cable Beach gained Super Club Breezes , Crystal Palace and Sandals. By the year 200, toruism totaled 4.2 million; 1.6 stayed in hotels and 2.5 came by a cruise ship.


    Tourism is a diverse industry filled with many types of tourists. These types of tourist are overnight tourist, cruise ship tourist, day tourist, eco-tourist, transit tourist, and stop over tourists. Firstly, tourism is divided into two types of tourism: International and Domestic. Domestic tourism is the traveling of individuals within their country. International tourists, also known as foreign tourists, are individuals which travel outside of their country to another for business and leisure activities. Overnight tourists are tourists who stay overnight

    Cruise ship tourists are tourists who come on the cruise ships, using little to no accommodations Eco-tourists are individuals who visit relatively undisturbed natural areas to admire, study or enjoy the natural wild life of the island Day tourist are visitors that spend one say on the island, only using the islands transportation systems Stopover tourists are tourist which stay for more than one night, using hotel accommodations and transportation systems

    When tourists visit, they contribute money to the country’s gross domestic product, which is the value of all final goods and services produced in a country over a period of time. We receive this income whenever a tourist uses hotel accommodations, transportation systems, or buys our products, ensuring that the country and its people benefit from the income.


    Tourism is when a person leaves their designated homeland and relocates temporarily to another region for business or leisure purposes. Tourism is the Bahamas number one industry. Creating employment in almost all fields of work from unskilled laborers, semi skilled hotel staff, highly trained management professional. This industry alone employs 40% of Bahamians while leaving another 20% dependant on it. Tourism accounts for 70% of the country’s national income, 50% of the country’s total employment, and 40% of government revenue. Generating the largest share of our country’s income, tourism provides income from taxes that allow full development of roads schools and public health services. These taxes include custom duties, stamp tax, departure tax and airport and harbor dues, hotel and casino tax. These taxes enable government to provide full infrastructure. Tourism provides foreign exchange because of the rapid flow of US dollars that enter the country. This foreign exchange allows government to pay back all foreign debts owed. Imported goods and foods are also paid by this flow. Foreign exchange enables the Bahamas to be the only Caribbean island with a dollar to dollar value as the US. Revenue provided by this exchange helps aid the government in paying thousands of employees on a monthly basis. Also allows him to improve road works, school construction and other governmental works. Tourism also helps to develop our culture. When a person travels they look
    for a place that will accommodate all of their needs whiles away from home. The Bahamas has provided it all. It is our “Bread Winner” therefore we must continue to upgrade and keep tourist happy so they will return or tell someone about it. With all of the advantages and benefits stated above, the tourism industry is not an easy one to manage. If not planned carefully it can affect us negatively. Disadvantages include the following; Coastal regions are destroyed when hotels are built. This provides beautiful beach areas for tourist. The family islands cater to boaters that come down yearly for game fishing or just plain sailing. This is great for the economy in terms of expenditure, but docks and marinas have to be built to accommodate their boats. This leads to mangroves, the habitat for baby marine life, being damaged. Also, litter is thrown in the sea by cruise ships, visitors, local tour operators, resort guest and boaters causing pollution. Another disadvantage Is the damage done to our coral reef and marine life. Divers illegally break coral plants to have as souvenirs but this helps to actually kill the reef. So environmental damage is a high cost to pay. Our number one industry, tourism, brings in people from all over the world. However, the majority of visitors to the Bahamas come from North America especially the US. This has caused an identity cruises in the Bahamas. Native or our people have adapted an accepted the foreign ways and opposed their own. Casinos, gambling, clothing, music, and food are examples of where culture loss happened. Cultural exchange is good, but don’t forget where you came from. This is why our culture need to be exposed and promoted here. Tourist want what they don’t get at home. The major disadvantage of tourism in the Bahamas is the fact that even though much money is earned and foreign exchange is increased. Much of that earned is sent out of the Bahamas to pay bills abroad. We are a developing nation, therefore, we import most of our food and goods.

    Tourism is described as a movement of individuals from one destination to another. Tourism, as an industry, accounts for 70% of the country’s national income, 50% of the country’s total employment, and 40% of government revenue. This means that tourism is the nation’s top industry, earning the most income and providing the most jobs. The tourism sector involves many jobs from the taxi and bus driver to the workers in the hotels and straw

    Visitor Expenditure
    $ 168,726,00
    $ 11,668,00
    $ 180,329,926
    $ 281,219,00
    $ 20,808,00
    $ 302,027,00
    $ 536,907,510
    $ 24,760,760
    $ 561,667,830

    Currently today in the year 2012, tourism is still the Bahamas’s number one industry; however, maintaining it as the country’s top industry is becoming somewhat a difficult task, especially during times of recession and increasing crime rates.


    In order to keep tourism as our number one industry and in order to remain competitive against other countries using tourism world wide, we must diversify, promote and develop it. This section will show how ecotourism can benefit out number one industry, tourism. Ecotourism by definition is tourism that is focused on some aspect f the natural environment, and is friendly, or conservative, towards plants, animals and the natural landscape. An eco tourist is a g or individual that visits a undisturbed
    area to admire, study and enjoy natural scenery, wild plants and animals. There are 3 types of eco tourist: Collectors- collect samples of plants and butterflies

    Photographers- enjoy bird watching, plants, animals, flowers, forest and desert Doers- enjoy horseback riding, jogging, swimming, skiing, backpacking, scuba diving, canoeing, mounting climbing and hunting Ecotourism involves traveling to relatively undisturbed or natural areas to study, admire and enjoy the scenery, wild plants and animals in their natural environment, and at the same time preserve the environment and provide economic benefits for f future generations. It also includes our historical sites and other human traits that can be sustained for future generations. This area can be looked at by the benefits that it provided such as: Jobs, Revenue and Economic Growth to the family islands- our family islands contain most of our natural attractions such as natural parks, swamps, blue holes etc. Therefore, by promoting ecotourism they can be developed, more jobs will be provided and they can be known. It encourages family planning while increasing the development of infrastructure- without a vision to move forward tourism will move backward. Therefore, the Ministry of tourism should always have some focus as to where our industry is headed. Enhances protection of the environment and natural assets- we will preserve, protect, enhance and ensure that no-one harms them. Encourages preservation of the local culture in the environment- this advantage will cause locals as well as visitors to be aware of our natural resources and historical sites for future generations. Diversifies the economy- with the revenue generates from ecotourism, the government can develop the economy as well as areas designed for eco tourist. Provides additional attractions for tourists who love nature. Gives us availability

    Developers become more aware- this causes less damage and harm to the environment Money- the tourist attracted to eco tourism are usually very rich or wealthy and will pay whatever is necessary. Eco tourism will show areas of natural attraction and provide recreation without destruction to areas that are unseen and untouched. With everything good there is some bad. The tourism industry is not an easy one to manage. If not planned carefully
    it can affect us negatively. Along with the many benefits of eco tourism, there are some disadvantages as well. Disadvantages include the following: Popularity- can cause the area to become degraded and destroy the natural wilf life. Ecotourism can become an excuse for development where it is unsuitable Unstable source of income- E.g mangroves, shallow water houses for small fish People may combine ecotourism with tourism

    Ecotourism may be destroyed by development
    The Bahamas with its wife array of natural resources, historical sites and mixed culture (African & European) can easily branch out promoting ecotourism. Even though there are a few disadvantages, they are outweighed by the advantages. All that is needed or required is appreciation, conservation and protection of what we have to offer, how we benefit from t for the future. CONCLUSION

    Tourism is the most beneficial source of income for the Bahamas. It has many advantages. It allows for employment and foreign exchange to purchase the goods and services much needed from abroad. It also has its disadvantages such as, culture destruction. However the many benefits it provides makes it vital to our economic existence. We depend on our number one industry so much, that the country’s major focus is always there and not on other industries which can be develop. There is too much depending on tourism, 70% of G.D.P. We must diversify into other areas or industries to fall on if tourism fails.

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    Tourism in The Bahamas. (2016, Sep 28). Retrieved from

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Feel free to contact us anytime, we are always ready to help you!

    How much tourism is in the Bahamas?
    Tourism in the Bahamas. Bahamas recorded a total of 2 million tourists in 2020, ranking 75th in the world in absolute terms. That smaller countries regularly perform lower in a comparison of the absolute number of guests, is obvious.
    Is tourism back in the Bahamas?
    From January to November 2021, the Bahamas experienced more than 80% growth in tourism arrivals compared to the same period in 2020. Following an impressive surge in arrivals in 2021, tourism officials in the Bahamas are optimistic about an especially strong 2022.
    What is tourism like in the Bahamas?
    In larger settlements like Grand Bahama and Nassau, tourists can enjoy entertainment that includes nightclubs, resorts, spas and casinos. For outdoor adventures, there are caves, plantations, forts, remote villages and outdoor biodiversity, including rare species of flowers and the endangered Bahamian parrot.
    Why is tourism important in the Bahamas?
    Tourism is big business in The Bahamas and a mainstay of the economy, contributing nearly 40% to the country's total gross domestic product. An estimated US$1.3 billion is spent annually by more than 3.2 million visitors, which supports roughly half of the labour force and produces 70% of the government tax revenue.

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