MEMBERS of the Bahamian delegation at the Experimental Aircraft Association convention in Wisconsin last month.
By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation took part in the week-long 69th Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture Oshkosh convention held in Wisconsin from July 24–31.
The Bahamas has participated in the event since 1998. The show attracts 500,000-800,000 pilots and attendees and features 800 commercial vendors, 12,000 airplanes, and 20,000 trailers.
Latia Duncombe, acting director general of the ministry led the Bahamian delegation along with representatives from tourism, the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority, the Bahamas Customs Department, and the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
Ms Duncombe said general aviation in The Bahamas has seen significant growth in arrivals of private pilots when compared to its pre-pandemic numbers.
This year, Bahamian officials hosted seminars on flying to The Bahamas to underscore the ease of pilots entering the country, including engagements on The Bahamas Customs Department’s digital Click2Clear Programme, along with the operation of a booth for attendees to find out more information on visiting The Bahamas.
The ministry continues to work with customs and private pilots, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), to gauge feedback on Click2Clear and ensure a seamless and user-friendly programme is implemented. Testing of the programme is currently underway in order to minimise the time it takes to process declarations required to enter the country.
Aviators and guests were also encouraged to attend the 2023 Grand Bahama Air Show from May 25-29, during the US Memorial Day Weekend. The event will showcase activities along with aerobatic, low-flying maneuvers over Taino Beach.
Ms Duncombe said she was encouraged to see continuous foot traffic from opening to close.
She said: “This air show gives us the environment to engage the aviators directly and to share the ease of transiting in and out of The Bahamas.”
Rick Gardiner, veteran pilot and Bahamas flying ambassador, and a presenter during the seminars, said: “The Bahamas Government has invested many years, many dollars and many hours to make it as simple and as welcoming as possible for general aviation pilots.
“No country does as much and works as hard to make it easy for general aviation pilots to visit.
“It just speaks volumes of the vision and leadership that The Bahamas Government has shown to get us to this point.”