The note below is from Captain Milt Baker, founder and former owner of the wonderful Bluewater Books and Charts in Fort Lauderdale, FL. While Milt does note this info is second and third hand, he has every reason to believe that it is accurate.
Although I've cruised the Bahamas almost every year for the past 25 years, I've been away and have no first-hand information on how the economy has affected the Bahamas. Over the past
couple of weeks, however, I've spoken have with several people who either live or have interests in the Bahamas, mainly Abaco. Here's their take:
–Nassau and Freeport, catering to mass tourism, have been hit hardest. If you don't count cruise ship passengers who spend little money in the Bahamas, the number of tourists visiting
Nassau and Freeport is down about 50% from the previous year. An acquaintance who owns one of the high-end restaurants at the Atlantis resort told me that his business of off by more than
50% and that bookings at the hotels there are down about the same amount.
–Abaco, catering to more sophisticated travelers, to those who own second homes there, and to the yachting community, has also felt the impact but not as severely. Tourism is reported to be
down about 30-35% in Abaco. Marina fees have either gone down or remained the same, with no increases anywhere. The new marina at Bakers Bay on Guana Cay was to have been a fancy,
exclusive megayachts-only marina, yet last weekend it had only three yachts, none of them megayachts. The price at the marina there is reported to $1.00/foot. There's lots of space at the usual marinas all around Abaco, and Green Turtle Club is reportedly offering big incentives to get cruisers in. Charter bookings at The Moorings is way down, according to someone who drives by several times a week and does a quick census of the boats there.
I don't have any reports on the number of boats at George Town in the Exumas. The "new" marina at Emerald Bay has reportedly gone belly-up.
I have felt for a long time that the $300 fee required to clear in a 40-plus foot boat was a bad idea that kept many yachtsmen from visiting the Bahamas. Combined with a bad economy, it seems to be even worse. I've heard lots of people say they just won't go there if they have to pay that kind of money for the privilege.
That said, Judy and I will be headed for Abaco for a few weeks in May and are looking forward to being back in the islands. I'm guessing we won't have any trouble finding a berth!
Nordhavn 47 Bluewater,
And, a similar point of view from Captain Dick:
We live in Nassau and, for the most part, the tourists keep coming. There are lots of boats in the harbor and, except for some of the tourist hotels, everything is still pretty much as normal. The Wyndham Hotel on Cable Beach will be closing for two months in August but the adjacent Radisson and the Crystal Palace Casino will be open. Atlantis has lost some business by is still relatively busy and, of course, open. All the good restaurants are open. There will be more than enough for a visitor to do. Don't forget the Thursday luncheon at the Green Parrot for visiting yachtsmen. You can get details on the morning net hosted by Nick Wardle. Come on down.