By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
DIRECT airlift between the Bahamas and Cuba will significantly boost this nation’s position as a regional “multi-destination” hub, and facilitate increased trade and commerce the two countries, a business executive said yesterday.
Lindbergh Smith, chief executive and founder of Blue Caribbean Crossings, told Tribune Business this nation was well-positioned to capitalise on travel as well as trade in Cuba.
“I have been residing in Cuba for a while, with a purpose of engaging in trade and commerce, looking at the opportunities, examining those and encouraging Bahamian companies as well as companies in Cuba to engage in trade,” Mr Smith said.
“We recognise the vast amount of opportunities that exist in Cuba with regards to industry, medical care and all these other services. We looked at what was happening here in the Bahamas. We wanted to expand and provide different opportunities for trade and commerce.
“We encouraged a number of local businesses through the Chamber of Commerce, and are assisting individuals with understanding how to do business in Cuba in conjunction with the Cuban Embassy and the Chamber of Commerce in Cuba,” Mr Smith added.
“One of the largest impediments was that there was a lack of air transportation. Even though Bahamasair and Cubana are there, there was an explosion of growth in that travel market. There is demand to ensure that we continue to evolve in that market. We saw that there was a need to add additional airlift between Cuba and the Bahamas,” said Mr Smith.
Western Air has partnered with Blue Crossings to launch new air passenger service between the Bahamas and Cuba.
Mr Smith explained that increased airlift between this nation and Cuba would not only facilitate the travel of Cuban residents between the Bahamas and Cuba, but also position this nation as a multi-destination hub for travel in the region.
“There are a number of European travellers that go there for, and would like to have, a second destination,” Mr Smith said.
“We have a number of Canadian visitors who visit the Bahamas and want to travel to Cuba, and we’re here to undertake those services. We have been encouraging hotel properties in Cuba to engage in moving those clients to come and visit the Bahamas in a multi-destination programme.
“We’re heavily engaged in talks with various hotel properties in Cuba to invite them to participate with us in terms of allowing those visitors to visit The Bahamas in a multi-destination programme.”