Leading a Canadian media tour for Bahamas Tourism is Anita Johnson-Patty, General Manager, Communications for Canada and Paul Strachan, and Director, Bahamas Tourist Office, Canada (Photo: Robbin Whachell / TheBahamasWeekly.com)
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism delegates, Paul Strachan, Director, Bahamas Tourist Office, Canada; and Anita Johnson-Patty, General Manager, Communications for Canada were in Vancouver, BC on March 22nd to kick-start a media tour to share information on the Bahamas 16 Weddings promotion, where 16 lucky Canadian couples will win a $10,000 wedding package and tie-the-knot on one of 16 islands in The Bahamas on November 16, 2016.
The following are remarks given by Paul Strachan to update those in attendance on the promotion and to provide an update on recent accommodation openings, refurbishments, etc. in the destination:
The Islands of The Bahamas is an archipelago to 700 islands and cays. Our closest island is just 50 miles or 80 kilometers from Florida. Each with its own unique charm and flavor.
For tourism marketing and branding purposes, we segment our country into three main destinations; Nassau/Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island, and the Out Islands.
The Out Islands is the collective brand of our more remote, eclectic islands with a variety of niche and specialty market activities, and boutique and high-end branded resorts.
The Islands Of The Bahamas has long been the “go to” destination for vacations of all styles and tastes, from a quick get away for two, to a family time out, or an escape for the adventurous traveler. Accommodations in the Bahamas have just gotten even better.
We are diversifying our product offering throughout our country so that we can continue to meet the demands of the most discerning Canadian travellers, and visitors from around the world.
Our guests now have a much wider array of accommodations from which to choose.
A media luncheon held to update local travel writers and journalist at the Hawksworth Restaurant in downtown Vancouver. (Photos: Robbin Whachell / TheBahamasWeekly.com)
NEW RESORT DEVELOPMENTS
Following are some of the brand new hotel properties and refurbished resorts that are now open or are due to come on stream within the next eighteen months in Nassau/Paradise Island, Grand Bahama, as well as in our Out Islands.
IN NASSAU/PARADISE ISLAND, extensive capital expenditures have been committed for product expansion and improvement at resorts such as the upscale Albany, Atlantis, Sandals Royal Bahamian, and the One & Only Ocean Club.
In 2017, a new waterfront destination called the Pointe will open in downtown Nassau. The Pointe is a $250 million dollar, multi faceted hotel and residential development which will consist of 110 condo units, a 200- room hotel, movie theaters, retail shops, a performing arts center, a spa, entertainment venues, at least 14 restaurants and a marina. It will revolutionize the physical and social landscape of downtown Nassau, with non-stop entertainment and diverse social activities to our premier city center.
In a few short months, the new 243 room Warwick Paradise Island Resort will open its doors. The Warwick Paradise Island will be our newest and only Four Star “All-inclusive” resort for Adults only; perfect for Canadians seeking an upscale all-inclusive option.
On the Southwest side of New Providence, the 30 room Island House has recently opened. Island House is a small, intimate boutique hotel, with a combination of guest rooms, cottages and apartments, with all the amenities and luxury of a resort, contemporary amenities and the understated elegance of authentic island life.
A short distance away is the 10 bedroom Ocean West; an elegant boutique hotel situated atop of a hill and overlooking the beach.
Heading into downtown, the newly renovated 3 star hotel that is intended to be branded as a Courtyard Marriott recently opened.
The Bahamas government and major stakeholders of the stalled $3.5 billion Baha Mar Resort are committed to seeing this beautiful 2,000-room waterfront property on Cable Beach open its door in the very near future.
While the resort is not yet opened, The Baha Mar Convention Arts & Entertainment Center is completed and will host the International Development Bank (IDB) 2016 convention next month. With an expected attendance of 5,000 plus delegates, this convention will be one of the largest ever to be held in The Bahamas. The convention center at Baha Mar has 200,000 square feet of combined indoor and outdoor spaces, making it one of the Caribbean’s largest venues with flexible state of the art convention and meeting facilities. The center will feature a gallery displaying the largest collection of Bahamian art in the country. This collection will be on display for the IDB convention.
A group photo at the media luncheon held to update local travel writers and journalist at the Hawksworth Restaurant in downtown Vancouver. (Photo: TheBahamasWeekly.com)
Meanwhile, behind the scenes negotiations continue toward a resolution to complete and open the resort. The Bahamas government is working with the China Exim Bank to secure a buyer for BahaMar. Perspective buyers continue to come forward and there is a real sense of optimism that a buyer will be announced in the near term.
ON GRAND BAHAMA, Lighthouse Pointe At Grand Lucayan Resort has undergone extensive renovations. With amenities, such as an on-property night club for adults and an expansive kids’ club, Lighthouse Point is ideal for families as well as couples. The resort boasts seven dining destinations, with an all-inclusive option.
Additionally, approval was recently granted for the investment of $168 million for the expansion of Deep Water Cay Fishing Resort on East Grand Bahama. Once completed, it will be a five star boutique and second home resort.
The Out Islands of The Bahamas is where much of our recent investments in resort development continues to take place. Major investments are committed on islands such as Abaco, Andros, Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma and San Salvador with flags such as Four Seasons, Aman Resorts, Sandals an expanded Club Med and Six Senses. These projects are in various stages of execution with launch dates scheduled later this year and beyond.
Airports in Eleuthera, Exuma, San Salvador and Bimini will be expanded and modernized to accommodate more international direct commercial flights, private flights for which The Bahamas is a regional leader, and increased domestic traffic.
The Bahamas will see new, state-of-the-art luxury cruise destination ports, such as the $100 million development at Sandy Cay near Bimini by Mediterranean Shipping Company Limited, and discussions for two others by major cruise lines in Grand Bahama and Eleuthera are ongoing.
ON MAINLAND ELEUTHERA, the Cove Eleuthera, that breathtaking island retreat that blends urban chic with island charm, has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation. ON HARBOUR ISLAND, Pink Sands Resort offers the opportunity for home ownership and villa rentals with its elite development, Pink Sands Estates, composed of 13 private lots.
IN BIMINI, in a few weeks, the new Hilton will open at Resorts World Bimini, boasting conference facilities and a spectacular spa. Resorts World Bimini is an entire destination, located on North Bimini, just 50 miles or 80 kilometers from South Florida. Among the amenities at Resorts World Biminiare multiple restaurants and bars, trendy boutiques, water sports and a 10,000 square foot world-class casino.
These new resort developments are poised to assist in our on-going efforts to maintain the long standing affinity Canadians have always had for The Bahamas; not only as a premier vacation destination, but also as their first choice when selecting and purchasing a vacation home.
From left to right: Paul Strachan, Director, Bahamas Tourist Office, Canada; and Anita Johnson-Patty, General Manager, Communications, Bahamas Tourism for Canada; Robbin Whachell, Editor/Cofounder TheBahamasWeekly.com; and Graeme Franklin, Director of Sales, Western Canada, Sunwing Vacations (Photo: TheBahamasWeekly.com)
April is Carnival time in the Bahamas. After a successful inaugural Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival in April of 2015, we are extending an open invitation to all Canadians to take a break next month; and to come down and join in the fun of celebrating Bahamian culture. Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival takes place in Grand Bahama April 14 -16, and in Nassau on May 5 – 7 and will feature a collection of concerts, cultural shows and street parades celebrating Bahamian heritage and traditions.
In early October of 2015, a number of our islands in the Southern Bahamas were impacted by Hurricane Joaquin. Thank God, no lives were lost but these islands sustained much material damage. The recovery effort was swift, superbly organized and is ongoing. Many of the resorts on these islands have since re-opened their doors for business.
It has also allowed the Ministry of Tourism to work at developing a strategic vision that allows us to rebuild new facilities and provide amenities to support niche markets such as boating, fishing, diving and romance.
We are all concerned about the spread of the Zika virus. Health officials in the Bahamas have moved quickly to put in place preventative measures throughout our islands and have heightened vigilance at our ports of entry. I am happy to report that The Bahamas remains free of the Zika virus.
In December 2015 The World Travel Awards, which was staged in Morocco, named The Islands Of The Bahamas the “Leading Wedding Destination in the World”.
We’re building on the success of this prestigious award and strengthening our position as one of the world’s leading wedding destinations by launching a destination wedding promotion exclusively here in Canada!
After successful executions in the United Kingdom and the United States, I’m excited to announce that the Bahamas 16 Weddings Invitation has arrived in Canada.
This innovative destination wedding promotion will give 16 lucky Canadian couples the opportunity to experience their dream destination wedding in one of 16 exotic locations, during 16 simultaneously weddings, on November 16, 2016 at 16:00 hours.
where they can use our interactive destination wedding location tool to assist with selecting an island location and a suggested theme wedding that perfectly matches their personality and wedding theme. They are encouraged get creative; to explore our website and to enhance our suggested theme weddings by creatively incorporating something that is unique and indigenous to the island they selected island into their wedding.
They would then upload a photograph and/or short video along with a description of the dream Bahamian destination wedding they created and the island location and theme they selected. They are also encouraged to tell us why you selected the island and theme.
A panel of judges will select a group of 20 semi-finalists. The semi-finalists will be notified and their submissions will be placed on our site for the public to vote for the most creative entries. The 16 couples with the most votes will win the contest and will each receive a destination wedding valued at approximately $10,000 and includes:
Anita Johnson-Patty, General Manager, Communications for Bahamas Tourism in Canada and Paul Strachan, Director, Bahamas Tourist Office, Canada seen on air at Tri-City Radio, CKPM FM in Porty Moody, BC. (Photo: Robbin Whachell / TheBahamasWeekly.com)
Round-trip airfare to The Bahamas, hotel accommodations for 6 days/5 nights, inter-islands flights, a marriage officer, wedding planner, standard wedding site décor, bride and groom flowers (bouquet and boutonniere), wedding cake (6-8 inches), bottle of champagne, rehearsal dinner and reception dinner for the couple and two witnesses, a videographer, and the opportunity to name and have your themed wedding added to the listing of official Bahamas Ministry of Tourism destination weddings.
We’re really excited about this promotion, and really want Canadians from Western Canada well represented and participating in the weddings. We invite you to encourage anyone you know considering a destination wedding to enter the contest. Entries must be submitted by May 16, 2016. Interested couples can learn more about the contest and enter at bahamas16weddings.com.
With increased direct air service, and great connections through Calgary and Toronto, getting from Canada to the Bahamas is easier than ever before.
Air Canada Vacations continues to offer year-round non-stop flights from Toronto to Nassau and to George Town, Exuma. Our famous swimming pigs of Exuma continues to attract visitors and media from around the world. They have been the subject of much media attention here in Canada; most recently featured with much fanfare during a segment on the ET Canada Show.
Sunwing Vacations offers non-stop and direct flights from eight Canadian gateways to Grand Bahama Island including: Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and most recently – Regina. Sunwing also offers non-stop, year-round service to Nassau/Paradise Island from Toronto.
WestJet Vacations continues to offer year-round, non-stop flights from Toronto to Nassau; and the only non-stop service from Calgary to Nassau on a seasonal basis.
Our media, airline, and tour operator and retail travel partners have all played an integral role in the success we’ve achieved over the years, and we wish to thank you all for your support. Your ongoing support was cause for steady growth in our visitor arrivals from Canada.
In 2014 we saw a significant 17% YOY increase. In 2015 saw a 5% YOY increase and welcomed a record 150,171 Canadians – the highest we’ve seen in the past 40 years!
Notwithstanding the current economic challenges we’re facing; with your continued support we hope to continue to see an upward trend in Canadian choosing to visit our country.