Food Festivals, New Resort Expected to Drive Rebound in Nassau
More than 7 million people visited the Bahamas in 2022
as the destination returned to pre-pandemic levels of popularity, and new events and hotels will only increase already strong demand for travel to Nassau, the archipelago’s main tourism hub.
The Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board (NPIPB) reported that occupancy for the destination increased 23.2 percent in 2022, rising to 65.2 percent compared to 42 percent in 2021.
“It has been wonderful to see tourism to Nassau Paradise Island surpass pre-pandemic levels, and we are continuing to build on the momentum from last year to drive demand and make 2023 a banner year,” said Joy Jibrilu, CEO of NPIPB.
An ever-growing array of attractions and events has helped spur an increase in the average length of stay by Nassau visitors, which is now up to nearly 6 nights. That includes everything from the Baha Bay waterpark at the Baha Mar resort, which debuted in 2021, to the Bahamas Ghost Tours launched by the Graycliff Hotel last year: the latter includes a walking haunted history tour down West Hill Street to creepy mansions, museums, historic churches and local cemeteries.
Food And Festivals
Baha Mar also hosted the inaugural Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival in October 2022, a mix of culinary and art programs that included cooking demos led by both resort and guest chefs and a dine-around program showcasing Baha Mar’s restaurants, bars and cafes. And Nassau get even tastier in 2023, when the first Nassau Paradise Island Food & Wine Festival is held at the Atlantis resort from March 15-19. The festival is expected to pull in some serious star power, including appearances by celebrity chefs Andrew Zimmerman, Duff Goldman, JJ Johnson, Aaron Sanchez and Alex Guarnaschelli and musical performances led by Wyclef Jean, who will headline the festival’s “Jerk Jam” on March 18.
“In addition to offering award-winning chef-driven restaurants and authentic Bahamian meals, we are excited to now have two top-notch food festivals on the island, giving our guests a chance to explore authentic cuisine while soaking up the sun,” said Jibruli, who added that Nassau “is becoming a premier culinary destination full of unforgettable authentic cuisine, chef-driven concepts and interactive dining experiences.”
2023 also will be the 50th anniversary of Bahamian independence, which will be marked by a variety of celebrations throughout the year, culminating with Independence Day itself on July 10.
Another milestone, albeit not quite as historic, took place in February 2023 when the Goldwynn Resort & Residences — Nassau’s first boutique beachfront resort — opened its doors on Cable Beach. The 81-room resort has studios and one, two, and three-bedroom suites with golf course and ocean views, plus restaurants, an infinity pool, a full-service spa, and butler service.
Finally, the Four Seasons’ Ocean Club, one of Nassau Paradise Island’s most iconic properties, completed a major renovation of its Crescent Wing. Debuting in February 2023, the makeover — which also marks the 60th anniversary of the resort — included a redesign inspired by classical Bahamian architecture as well as the resort’s Versailles-style terraced gardens. The project also involved the DUNE by Jean-Georges restaurant, the gym, the Versailles pool and Ocean pool, and the resort spa.
New Airport Terminal
Grand Bahama Island, once one of the premier tourism destinations in the Bahamas, has struggled to recover from massive damage sustained when Hurricane Dorian hit the island in 2019. A major step in bringing more visitors back to the island was achieved in January 2023, when the domestic terminal at Grand Bahama International Airport reopened, and ground will soon be broken on a new international terminal at the island’s airport, as well. Work on the new terminal is expected to get underway in the first quarter of 2023.
More Ways to Get there
New flights, a new cruise port, and several big marina projects are expanding access to the islands of the Bahamas.
JetBlue is adding daily flights between New York’s LaGuardia International Airport and Nassau on March 30, while Aztec Airways has commenced five new weekly flights between Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and North Eleuthera, with service on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Cruise ships will soon have a new port of call in the Bahamas’ “sister islands.” Ground was broken in December on a new, $250-million cruise port on Long Island. When completed in 2025, the cruise port will be able to accommodate two of the world’s largest cruise ships simultaneously. The project is expected to include a casino, 18-hole golf course, zip line, water park, retail and dining, beach facilities, and possibly a hotel.
In November, 2022, the Hurricane Hole Superyacht Marina opened on Paradise Island, and the proposed, $175 million Torch Cay project in the Exumas is expected to add a marina, 18-hole golf course, and other amenities to the 707-acre, privately owned island.