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The Slot Spot: Island Casino Insider

March 31, 2008 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent

Foxwoods: A safe bet for Bahamas Tourism

Where both quality and quantity are concerned, it's safe to say the Bahamas is the king of the island casino world. And with the anticipated arrival of Foxwoods Development Company, this king just got upgraded to an ace.

Joe Pike

Joe Pike

Grand Bahama Island is on the verge of a major redevelopment project that will bring Foxwoods, the famous Connecticut-based casino powerhouse, to its shores.

Foxwoods will take over the former Royal Oasis Resort, which was destroyed by hurricanes in 2004. The property will get a new name and a new face and most likely serve as another great selling point for your wagering clients.

Travel Agent spoke with The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism's Deputy Director General, David Johnson, to learn exactly how important this addition will be to tourism in the Bahamas.

"Gaming is an important attraction or amenity, and in the case of Atlantis, they have been extremely successful as operators, much more so than the other players to date," Johnson told us. "Are the casinos drawing visitors to the Bahamas? The answer is 'yes' and largely because of their powerful direct-marketing programs and their offerings of more activities, more nightlife etc., [which] many visitors are seeking."

Boat anchored off Grand Bahama Island

Boat anchored off Grand Bahama Island

Does Las Vegas Have to Worry?

With the addition of Foxwoods, however, don't expect a casino invasion to hit the Bahamas.

"Although [it's] important as a major amenity, we have a limited number of casinos within the Bahamas," Johnson says. "There are two licenses in Nassau and Paradise Island and two licenses that have been activated in Grand Bahama Island, which has been the case for the past 40 years or so. We added a fifth casino—the first in an Out Island setting—at the Four Seasons in Exuma that functions as a small private facility within the resort.

"It would be misleading to suggest that this is the tip of the iceberg of sorts," Johnson continues, "as there is no strong push to position the Bahamas as a casino-driven tourism destination...rather, [our goal is] to maintain the casinos as strong amenities of the major facilities within Nassau and Grand Bahama, where our tourism traffic is sufficiently dense."

If the Foxwoods property draws the same amount of guests as the Royal Oasis did, expect it to be a hot spot to send your clients.

"The Royal Oasis represented almost one-third of total room inventory and almost 30 percent of the GDP from tourism on the island," Johnson notes. "It was a second-anchor resort for the island and one with a comprehensive marketing program that extended into their own sponsored airlift program. In short, it was very important and served as a strong draw for tourism to Grand Bahama Island."

The Royal Oasis closed in September 2004 after being severely damaged by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. The prospect of the property being redeveloped has created a great deal of excitement on the island, which is 70 miles from Florida's east coast.

Johnson says no further details on the Foxwoods' property have been released yet, but he expects the developers to share specific plans in about a month.

Are you an agent who would like to share casino news, thoughts and insider tips on selling Caribbean destinations with casinos? Write to Joe Pike at [email protected].

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