The Bahamas is hoping its just-signed air transport agreement with Canada will boost tourist arrivals from that nation by encouraging increased airlift from its major cities.
Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, said the agreement will also allow Bahamian airlines and aviation companies to take advantage of economic opportunities in Canada.
“This agreement solidifies our relationship with Canada as it relates to aviation. And so this agreement sets out the steps by which aviation companies can do business in The Bahamas, and the steps where Bahamian companies can do business in Canada,” Mr D’Aguilar explained.
Canada is the second largest tourism source market for The Bahamas, generating just over 500,000 visitors each year. Laurie Peters, the Canadian high commissioner, said the aviation agreement further cements the ties between the two countries.
“It is an emblem of the long-standing relationship between the Commonwealth Of The Bahamas and Canada, and also marks a new era of engagement. We have long been people-to-people friends. Many Canadians have flocked to your shores, and I think that this agreement will further strengthen our ties and create more opportunities,” she said.
“We know that the traditional carriers have low-cost little cousins to expand in the region, and there seems to be no end in sight to the Canadian cold winter. Hopefully there will be lots of demand that this agreement would allow us to respond with.”
Currently, Air Canada and West Jet are the major airlines that fly into The Bahamas from destinations such as Toronto, Montreal and Cadbury.
Mr D’Aguilar voiced optimism that more Canadian aviation companies will begin flying to The Bahamas from other cities.
“As companies grow and expand, the regulatory framework is in place,” he added. “It is the fastest-growing segment coming to The Bahamas. So whatever we can do to keep that ball rolling and keep the commerce between our two countries…it’s important that we take steps such as this, and we are grateful to the people and the government of Canada for agreeing to do this and we are happy that it is finally done.”
This is the latest in a series of air service agreements The Bahamas has signed. Late last year it signed aviation agreements with The Netherlands, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and a number of African and European countries.