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Tourism Minister: Airlift vital to tourism growth

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar spoke of the challenges and opportunities in aviation this morning during his keynote address at the Caribavia aviation industry conference. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

CaribaviaMinister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar spoke of the challenges and opportunities in aviation this morning during his keynote address at the Caribavia aviation industry conference.

The Minister highlighted the importance of airlift to The Bahamas’ tourism product, saying: “When you live on an island visitors can only come by air or sea; we do not enjoy the built-in luxury of a drive-up customer base. We welcome the majority of our visitors by sea, but the injection into the economy increases exponentially when a visitor arrives by air. To succeed, we believe a focus on airlift is paramount.”

The average expenditure from a cruise ship passenger is $70, while visitors arriving by air spend an average of $1,504, according to D’Aguilar.

One of the key challenges in the sector is finding the appropriate level of passenger taxation. The Minister noted that many airports around The Bahamas need upgrading and modernizing in order to attract more routes and carriers, but said finding funding for redevelopment requires a delicate balancing act.

“Airport development has not kept pace with tourism growth,” he told conference attendees. “That is the challenge. How do we reconcile the massive capital outlay against the need to collect reasonable fares to service the debt and maintain the airports? Some level of tax is required – a reasonable tax that does not impede tourism.”

Referencing Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau as a model, the government would like to create more Public Private Partnerships to revitalise Family Island airports and make them “self-sustaining”, he said. The Minister is also eager for more non-stop international flights throughout the archipelago, opening the destination up to new markets and carriers and said building capacity was a priority for his Ministry.

“We consider airlift to be a vital part of an integrated tourism plan,” he said.

Caribavia takes place this week at Atlantis Paradise Island and brings together aviation experts and stakeholders from all over the region. Topics on the agenda include global aviation trends, drone technology, sustainable development, increasing competitiveness and passenger taxation.

With the launch of the first Bahamas Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference just over one week away, Minister for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson says the event will be a "marketing tool to allow the world to know that Grand Bahama is open for business".

Sidney Collie, ambassador of The Bahamas to the US was elected vice-chair of the General Committee of the Organization of American States last week.

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