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Airlift Access Hurts South Out Islands

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas must continue to promote itself as a multi-island destination and make all destinations easier and more affordable to access, one executive saying: “We know what the solution is”.

Echoing sentiments by the Prime Minister at the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s (BHTA) recent annual general meeting (AGM), where he challenged stakeholders to do more to promote the Bahamas as more than simply Nassau/Paradise Island, Kerry Fountain, the Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board’s (BOIPB) executive director, said resorts in the southern continue to struggle due to the lack of airlift.

Mr Fountain told Tribune Business: “We have to make it easier and affordable to get to the Out Islands. Nassau/Paradise Island is doing well but Grand Bahama is a different story. As far as the Out Islands are concerned, our 50-plus hotels are doing well without any major increase in room inventory.

“Those with 50 rooms and under in the Northern and Central Bahamas are doing well. We continue to struggle in the southern islands; Long Island, Crooked Island, Acklins and San Salvador. We know the solution to that and until we address it they will continue to struggle.”

Mr Fountain hailed as a positive sign Silver Airways’s recent announcement on service to Cat Island. “Silver Airways is going to be providing non-stop service from Fort Lauderdale to New Bight, Cat Island, twice a week,” he added.

“They were doing it as a good partner without seeing the potential of the route, but advanced bookings have certainly been promising. Western Air is looking at service between New Bight and Nassau. We were close to getting Silver to fly into Stella Maris, Long Island, but the runway was too short. We’re going to continue to crack at it it 2019.”

Silver Airways recently announced that it is starting new twice weekly service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and New Bight Airport beginning on February 13, 2019.

“We are thrilled to be adding Cat Island to Silver’s already extensive network of Bahamian Family Islands, which includes more routes between Florida and the Bahamas than any other airline,” said Silver Airways chief executive, Steve Rossum, in a statement.

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