Bimini saw a substantial increase in tourism in 2013, according to Prime Minister Perry Christie.
The island located about 50 miles off the coast of Florida received 104,347 tourists in 2013, a 93 percent increase over the number of tourist arrivals in 2012, when 54,036 visitors arrived on the island. That growth makes Bimini the fastest growing tourism destination in the Bahamas the Prime Minister said.
That growth was due in large part to the entry of the Bimini Superfast ferry, which operates service between Port Miami and Bimini and is owned by Resorts World Bimini.
“Bimini’s spectacular growth and development continues unabated, fueled predominantly by Resorts World with spinoff effects impacting other smaller resorts, businesses and entrepreneurs,” Christie said in his budget communication this week.
Resorts World has employed around 500 people at its resort and casino, with around 350 Bahamians working in construction projects (including a 300-room resort that is in development).
The Prime Minister said Resorts World had already invested $90 million on the ferry project and was spending $150 million on resort upgrades, which include the construction of a deep water pier.
The latter has led to some controversy among environmentalists amid concerns that dredging for the pier would damage Bimini’s marine environment. Dredging began last week after a court challenge to block the project was denied by the Bahamas Court of Appeal.
Christie said the government expected an ultimate goal of around 500,000 annual tourism arrivals to Bimini, which also recently saw the addition of night lighting at its airport to allow for evening flights.