Travel and Tourism - Bahamas - May 2012
Tourism has been the main pillar of the economy of the Bahamas since the beginning of the 20th century. In most recent years, two thirds of the gross domestic product (GDP) has been generated by tourism (directly and indirectly), which employs half of the active workforce on the islands. The tourism industry has been experiencing ups and downs ever since it became an important sector of the economy, suffering from the post-9/11 dip in leisure travel, some serious hurricane hits (especially in 2004), and of course, the global recession.
The close proximity to the US is both a blessing and a curse for tourism in the Bahamas. The short travelling distance is the main reason that the Bahamas is a preferred destination for US holidaymakers. However, over the years, the focus on the US market has led to high dependence on this market (more than 80% of the arrivals are from the US), and therefore every factor impacting the behaviour of US travellers is immediately felt by the economy of the Bahamas.
The Bahamas has experienced an economic downturn as a result of the worldwide economic recession. Tourism numbers dropped significantly during the last quarter of 2008, and by November 2009 more than 110,000 Bahamians were relying on unemployment benefits. To alleviate the loss of jobs and to enhance tourism capacities, the government has invested in several major infrastructure projects, including road improvement, and expansions of the Nassau airport and harbour. It has also been successful in attracting foreign investors (including the government of China), who are funding the several large-scale developments on different islands. Some of the investments were planned before the global economic downturn had taken its toll.
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