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Past Baha Mar 'Missteps' Undermining Airlift Growth

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

New resort developers should "bear the responsibility" for attracting new airlift to the Bahamas, Atlantis's top executive warning: "You can't wait until the last minute."

Howard Karawan, the Atlantis president and managing director, who also serves as chairman of the Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board, told Tribune Business there was a need to attract more airlift to this destination.

He said: "We have met with JetBlue, Southwest and other airlines. I don't think you can wait until the last minute. You have to build demand.

"You have to be out in the market usually two years in advance of opening, building that anticipation, knowledge and desire, so that when you open the demand is there. If the demand is there the airlines will come.

"Given the missteps of the past, the airlines are saying we will believe it when we see it; show us the real stuff, show us new demand. If all you are doing is taking an existing customer going to Atlantis or Sandals or someplace else and going to another hotel, that doesn't create more demand for the air seats. We need new bodies; we need new business."

Mr Karawan recently admitted fears of market 'cannibalisation' as a result of Baha Mar, noting that the pricing by new developments was already taking business away from existing properties. He stressed the need for price integrity to sustain wages and bonuses among hotel sector employees.

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