Last updated: 01:32 PM ET, Wed October 14 2015

Survey Finds The Bahamas Lags in Cruise Passenger Spending

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Brian Major | October 14, 2015

Survey Finds The Bahamas Lags in Cruise Passenger Spending

PHOTO: The Bahamas hosted 4.8 million cruise ship visitors in 2014. (photo by Brian Major)

The Bahamas is one of the world’s busiest warm-weather cruise destinations. But the country’s success with shipboard arrivals does not extend to cruise passenger spending, according to a recently released study.

Generally included within the Caribbean, the cruise lines’ main region of deployment, the Bahamas hosted 4.8 million cruise passengers last year, the number one total among the 28 destinations tracked by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

But despite a jump in average per-visit Bahamas cruise visitor spending from $64.81 in 2012 to $82.83 this year on average, total passenger spending remained essentially flat during the same period according to “Economic Contribution of Cruise Tourism to the Destination Economies,” a Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) report issued last week.  

Total cruise passenger spending in the Bahamas increased by less than one percent between 2012 and 2015, from $241.5 million to $243.5 million, the survey found.

FCCA’s study also found that of the Caribbean and Bahamas’ seven “high volume” destinations, all of which hosted more than one million cruise passengers in 2015, the Bahamas had the lowest average per-visit spending despite hosting the largest number of cruise vacationers and recording the region’s highest number of on-shore passenger visits in 2015, with 2.94 million.

Average spending per passenger ranged from $82.83 in the Bahamas to $191.26 in St. Maarten according to the report. Of the high-volume destinations, only the Bahamas and Puerto Rico had average passenger expenditures below $103.83, the average for all destinations.

The FCCA report does not attempt to provide an explanation of the spending patterns. However industry observers have speculated that the proximity of both destinations to the United States mainland may account for the Bahamas and Puerto Rico’s relatively low passenger spending levels.   

Despite the low passenger spending levels, the report makes it clear that the Bahamas realizes significant economic impact from its cruise ship activity. The country recorded $373 million in direct cruise business expenditures, the region’s second-highest total. 

“...Bahamas benefited from the generation of 7,954 jobs paying wage income(s) of $138 million, the third highest totals in both categories throughout the Caribbean,” the report notes. “Thus, in the Bahamas, every $1 million in direct cruise tourism expenditures generated 21 jobs throughout the island’s economy, which paid an average annual wage of about $17,400.”

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