BMOTA Grand Bahama Welcomes European Tour Operators On Familiarization Trip
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA) hosted a group of French and Portuguese tour operators on a familiarization visit to Grand Bahama from January 25-27.
BMOTA organized the visit to acquaint the tour operators with Grand Bahama and equip them to more adequately sell the destination to customers in their respective markets. To this end, the group of six enjoyed a tour specially customized to showcase the island’s range of hotels, restaurants and attractions.
“Grand Bahama is a very important destination for the French market and now the emerging Portuguese market, so we wanted to show them the status of the island,” said Karin Mallet-Gautier, area manager for the Bahamas Tourist Office in France.
During their first evening on the island, the tour operators made a visit to Taino Beach & Smith’s Point, home to Grand Bahama’s popular fish fry event. There, the group mingled with locals and got an opportunity to sample a Bahamian staple, “Gully Wash”. The following day, they went west for a stingray excursion at Sandy Cay with West End Ecology Tours — an experience that proved to be a highlight of the familiarization visit.
The tour operators also participated in site inspections at Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach All-Inclusive Resort, Pelican Bay Hotel, Grand Lucayan Resort, and Old Bahama Bay Resort.
“They have to see the product,” Mallet-Gautier said. “In the Bahamas, we have 16 destinations and they are all different. On Grand Bahama there’s the importance of the environment, the good value for money and, of course, you will always find the smile of the people and the beautiful beaches. There are multiple possibilities for selling the island, but they have to see the product first.”
Lea Baty, a tour operator for Tui France, said she was impressed with Grand Bahama’s diversity and thought her customers would most enjoy the opportunities for genuine Bahamian experiences.
“We were really happy to see how welcoming the Bahamians were to us,” Baty said. “I think my clients would really like Grand Bahama because it shows the authentic side of Bahamians. We went to a bar and had the Gully Wash. It was really, really nice to have this Bahamian vibe with all the people there enjoying the nightlife. So, I think having this touch of authentic experiences with the Bahamians, that’s something I could bring back to my clients.”
The visit to Grand Bahama was one leg of a wider familiarization tour of The Bahamas, which included Nassau, The Exumas, and Eleuthera.
First-time visitor to The Bahamas Jaimes Lopes said he was happy for the opportunity to get a personal experience with the islands. As a tour operator for Solférias in Portugal, Lopes said the visit would help to diversify the travel packages he offers to clients.
Concerning Grand Bahama, he mentioned the island’s hotels and natural beauty as good selling points.
“The nature part of Grand Bahama is a more authentic island experience as it’s a less developed island in terms of tourism, but it gives you a different feel than more standardized islands that exist throughout the Caribbean,” Lopes said. “Grand Bahama still has the charm of a laid-back, island atmosphere that for sure will attract the Portuguese clients. Also, the hotel properties cover a little bit of the market that we have in Portugal from the all-inclusive, to the upscale resorts, to the basic lodgment only. So, I think it’s great in terms of opportunities for business.”
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Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation