Tourism officials are expecting a significant increase in visitors to Grand Bahama due to the introduction of new weekly direct flights from two Canada gateways.
This is because Sunwing Airlines, an affiliate of the Memories Resort operator, is launching new services from Vancouver and Calgary on November 1, 2014.
It has been more than 30 years since Grand Bahama welcomed a direct flight from Vancouver.
Obie Wilchcombe, minister of tourism, and Betty Bethel, director of the Grand Bahama Tourist Office, made the announcement during a special luncheon for Canadian press at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver this Tuesday.
With the introduction of the non-stop Vancouver and Calgary flights, Sunwing will offer direct service into Grand Bahama from eight Canadian gateways. The airline currently offers direct flights from Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax.
“This is an amazing opportunity as it opens Canada up to the Bahamas from the east coast to the west coast,” said Joy Jibrilu, the Ministry of Tourism’s director-general.
“People in the west coast may think that the Bahamas is just so far away, and many of them choose to visit Hawaii instead. With these direct flights, it is just as easy to get to the Bahamas as it is to get to Hawaii, and so now we’re attracting a whole new market.”
Sunwing Vacations is the leisure tour operator responsible for Sunwing Airlines, as well as the Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort that opened in Freeport earlier this year.
Carmel Churchill, director of marketing services for the Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board, said Sunwing Vacations has played a major role in the island’s revitalisation.
She expects even more growth with the addition of the two new flights.
“Already we have seen that it has been quite successful for us. We’ve seen over 25,000 new visitors come to the island because of the Sunwing partnership,” she said.
“We anticipate that Grand Bahama will see an increase in air arrivals of up to 35 per cent with direct flights from the additional two cities – Vancouver and Calgary.”