A well-established destination for yachts, The Bahamas has been open for tourists since June of last year.
Kaisa Pace, US charter manager for Hill Robinson, discusses how the region successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, and why it continues to attract visitors to The Bahamas.
The past 18 months have presented the yachting world with challenges and changes, but the appeal of the sunny Bahamas never stopped.
Kaisa Pace, US charter manager for Hill Robinson grew up visiting the islands and happily reports that this region was able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Bahamas market has been steadily growing since summer 2020 when it was one of the few destinations allowing yachts to enter with measured procedures, thereby making it possible for guests to come in with COVID-19 protocols and restrictions,” she remarks.
As well as industry stakeholders such as Hill Robinson, Kaisa attributes the success to the Association of Bahamas Marina (ABM), which worked “as a lifeline during the pandemic”, ensuring that the islands were able to enjoy the benefits of visiting yachts, while making sure everyone was safe. “ABM was a huge driving force. They were working closely with the government and the yachting industry to connect with the charter managers and be in the know about what everyone needed. They saw that the yachts were self-contained revenue generators that are able to bring in tourist dollars safely.”
Since last June when The Bahamas opened for tourists, Kaisa has seen hundreds of vessels leaving south Florida to cruise there. “The islands’ COVID protocols are great, I’ve been over twice this year and there are excellent safety checks in place – the processes are nearly seamless.” Fully vaccinated travelers are now free to the travel to the islands without a negative COVID test and unvaccinated travelers can still enter with a negative test, followed by frequent testing, and social distancing restrictions remain on the islands.
As the yachting world collects itself after an eventful year, Kaisa is confident in the industry’s recuperation. “For us, 2021 has started off with incredible growth as we’ve added three quality yachts to our charter fleet since January, including 44.81m (127″) M/Y Audaces.” Built in 2014 by Sunrise Yachts, Audaces (ex Atom) was designed by Paolo Scanu and boasts an interior by Darnet Design. Her five large staterooms can accommodate up to 11 guests, who will be able to take advantage of the best of the Bahamian weather on her vast exterior sun decks and newly renovated beach club.
Audaces is just one of the Hill Robinson fleet yachts available for charter in The Bahamas this summer. When Kaisa highlights unending list of activities and destinations in the region, it is easy to see why it is a hotspot for yacht charters. The extensive cruising opportunities include the better known Exuma island chain, the famous Berry Islands known for excellent fishing, diving and several secluded beaches. Andros Island is considered a ‘hidden gem’ among those who have visited the largest of the Bahamian islands many times. It is home to the vibrant Androsia fabric seen throughout the Bahamas and found in the local markets.
Kaisa anticipates another record year for The Bahamas, thanks to charter policies in place that protect all parties involved. “Hill Robinson is gearing up for an active summer and we’re seeing a lot more confidence in bookings with our COVID policies. We’re now in a market where people seem to be comfortable with rescheduling terms, which is a sense of comfort for both charter clients and owners.”
As more destinations open to visitors around the world, The Bahamas continues to offers a safe sanctuary for those chartering this summer.
Written by: Rachel Rowney