Seasonality affects the number of tourists to a region and therefore can threaten the viability of businesses in a region (Galloway, 2008). Seasonality refers the cyclical changes in demand for a destination over the course of a year (Inkson & Minnaert, 2018). This effects the Caribbean and other island nations because of the attractiveness of their climate (Kulic, 2004) causing them to develop identifiable patterns of demand (Inkson & Minnaert, 2018). Islands nations like the Bahamas depend of tourism (“About the industry,” 2015) With the Out Islands most likely relying just as much on it. The Out Islands make up 84% of the archipelago landmass (“84% of The Bahamas, 100% Unspoiled”, n.d) and are quite controlled by seasonal demand (“About the industry”, 2015).
The purpose of the paper, therefore, is to evaluate the causes and impacts of seasonality on the Out Islands of the Bahamas, and to determine what the Bahamas Out Islands promotion board is doing to help the destination grow. An overview of seasonality will be explored as well as a demonstration of how and what kind of seasonal tourism effects the Out islands. The Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board will be identified further as a DMO as well as explained as to how it addresses seasonality. This paper will discuss two major topics: causes and impacts of seasonality in terms of the Abaco islands as well as what is a DMO and the Bahamas Out Islands promotion board helps to market them as a tourist destination.
Seasonality is the concept that most destinations do not have an influx of tourists all through the year: they are busy at peak season and deserted during the shoulder season (Inkson & Minnaert, 2018). This means that the businesses in these destinations must generate a full year’s revenue within a short operating season while servicing fixed costs over a 12-month period (Baum &Lundtorp, 2001). Seasonality could be caused by various factors including holidays, changes in climate and natural disasters (“Seasonality”, n.d.). Seasonality is also caused by the patterns of vacation times in the generating regions including spring break or fall reading week thus creating a surge in demand for tourism from people in these markets (Inkson & Minnaert, 2018). Many destinations can recognize their seasonal demand but in order to reduce seasonality, destinations could try to market their destination during the shoulder season to continue generating capital.
Seasonality impacts two major parties, the destination and the tourist. Tourist are not majorly effected by cyclical demand changes other than the change in price for vacations that often occurs during the different demand periods. However, the destination is impacted much more by the sudden influx and outflow of tourists throughout the year. One of the main issues that destinations have with seasonality is the effect on revenues throughout periods of varying demand (Lohrey, 2017) Obtaining and maintaining enough working capital requires an almost constant influx of cash but Seasonality can cause consumer demand to swell and then decrease excessively (Lohrey, 2017).
Destinations are also impacted by seasonality in terms of employment. According to Ball (1989), “Seasonal work is still an important part of the labour market” (p. 36), which is undoubtedly true, but seasonal work could also often pose problems for some destinations. The majority of tourism destinations experience a “high” season where employment levels as well as tourist visitation/spending are at their peak, but they also experience and a “low” season when employment and tourist visitation is its lowest. (Smith & Morse, 2015). This issue could cause labour shortages during the peak season because of the influx of tourists and also induce a surplus of employees during the off season. Accommodations and resorts that shut down entirely during their often season increase unemployment levels of the local community and leave many people without jobs for a prolonged period of time.
The Out Islands
The Out Islands of the Bahamas make up a large majority of the archipelago that is the Bahamas, but these islands are much less populated and catered more towards the explorers instead of organized mass tourists (“Get Out Here”, n.d) The Out Islands consist of about 12 islands including Exuma, Bimini and Abaco (“Get Out Here”, n.d). The principle factors that drive tourism in the Out Islands are a tropical climate and ocean, attractive beaches, friendly people, proximity to a north American marketplace and an interesting culture/history (Bounds, 1978).
The biggest way that seasonality effects the ‘Out’ Islands is climate or weather conditions. Hurricane season officially lasts from June to November with August with September/October being the most dangerous (“When to go to the Bahamas”, n.d). The looming threat of hurricanes throughout this time causes many accommodation/resort locations to temporarily shut down until hurricane season has passed in order to save themselves the trouble (“When to go to the Bahamas”, n.d). Having a seasonal business like many resorts in the ‘Out’ islands allows mangers to focus on how to grow their business during the peak season (Galic, 2016).
The off season gives resorts and other Bahamian business a time develop new marketing strategies in order to keep growing their business and continuing to diversify their target market (Galic, 2016). Closing during the off season also effects the seasonal employment and causes many employees to be out of work for several months which could be detrimental to a local community (Lohrey, 2017) especially in such small communities in the ‘Out’ Islands.