FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA) hosted a group of French influencers on a three-day familiarization tour of Grand Bahama over the weekend.
BMOTA considers France an important market for tourism as some 21,000 stopover visitors arrive in The Bahamas from France each year. With Grand Bahama averaging 3,000 of these visitors annually, tourism officials saw the familiarization trip as a golden opportunity to dispel misconceptions and increase interest for the island.
Four travel and lifestyle influencers were enlisted to help drive the message that Grand Bahama is indeed open for business and ready to welcome global visitors: Amelie Tauziede, Alexandra Besson, Lea Bianchi and Virginie Masclet.
The influencers were accompanied by Karin Mallet-Gautier, area manager for the Bahamas Tourist Office in France, and Chloe Alfieri, community manager for Travel Insight Agency.
The group arrived on January 17 for an activity-filled visit arranged to ensure the guests would enjoy the best of Bahamian culture, cuisine and hospitality. During a guided jeep tour, the group made stops at The Perfume Factory, Garden of the Groves, Taino Beach, Port Lucaya Marketplace, and heritage sites in the western settlements of Lewis Yard and Pinder’s Point. Additionally, the influencers took a small trek into a pine forest to learn about the island’s fire-resistant Caribbean Pine. The itinerary also allowed for plenty of downtime to enjoy the beach and attractions at their host hotel, Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach All-Inclusive Resort.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see that, although Dorian has done tremendous damage, the island is actually in better shape than I thought,” Besson said. “I was mentally prepared for devastation, but when we arrived at the hotel, we could see all the palm trees are standing and it looks quite normal.”
On the final day of their stay, the influencers stopped by the Grand Bahama Home for the Aged to spend time with the residents. The group also visited the Evangeline Jervis Community Service Distribution Centre to learn about areas of need on the island and how visitors are able to assist.
Besson said these opportunities to connect with the local people were her favorite parts of the trip and added that her followers have found this component interesting as well.
“The glamorous shots always get the most likes and that’s normal. That’s the game on social media,” Besson said. “But people are very interested in the authentic stories that I have shared about getting to know people and getting to know the natural side of the island. Many of my followers have sent messages saying ‘Oh, that’s interesting, I didn’t know we could see that, that we could experience that’. So, we’re showing that The Bahamas is great beyond the beach.”
The influencers took advantage of every experience on the island, taking dozens of photos for posting to their respective blogs and social media platforms. Combined, the bloggers have a growing audience of over 247,000 followers on Instagram alone.
“The benefit of the trip is the fact that you can instantly report on the destination and the activities you are doing or places you are visiting,” Mallet-Gautier said. “So, the ladies are able to give a true, instant image and account of what they are experiencing. This is the quickest way to spread the word for Grand Bahama and encourage visitors to come back.”
The influencers’ visit to Grand Bahama was the first of three familiarization trips from France slated for January. Mallet-Gautier will return to the island with a group of French and Portuguese tour operators on January 25.