By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Advanced bookings on flights into the Bahamas have risen “over and above’ last year’s numbers straight through October, a top tourism official adding that this nation “still has a product to promote” despite the stalled Baha Mar project.
Tyrone Sawyer, the Ministry of Tourism’s director of airlift development, told Tribune Business that while the $3.5 billion Cable Beach resort has not yet opened, bringing some 2,000-plus extra hotel rooms to this nation’s inventory, airlift is tracking above where it was year-over-year.
Mr Sawyer said tourism industry stakeholders have maintained an open dialogue with the airlines, who have been incrementally increasing seats and frequencies into this destination despite Baha Mar not being open.
“The airlift to New Providence looks very good,” he said. “We have had some drop off in our Copa flights from Panama. That’s probably about 23,000 seats total for the year, but out of our key areas we have seen an increase in the amount of seats coming in, and we have also seen an increase in the performance of our airlift into both Nassau/Paradise Island and into Grand Bahama from our key markets.”
Mr Sawyer added: “We have the capacity to add additional airlift and increase our numbers. That’s why we are not panicking and scrambling around. We have been talking to these airlines for the past few years so we can actually plan by increasing the size of the aircraft or the amount of flights.
“Based on the information that we have, advanced bookings on the flights we have coming in are increasing and have risen over and above last year straight through October. We are very pleased by the increase in the advanced bookings to Nassau/Paradise Island and the Family Islands.”
Mr Sawyer said that even without Baha Mar, the Bahmas “still has a product to promote”, citing new hotel room inventory brought on by the likes of the Warwick Paradise Island and the Marriot Courtyard in addition to several other smaller properties.