Berry Islands tourism boom expected after airport opening



OFFICIALS anticipate a big boom in tourism on Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands due to the opening of a new international airport.

Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said that the completion of the airport shows his administration’s commitment to reinvigorating and stimulating the economy of the Berry Islands and further addressing the specific and immediate needs of each island.

“This is a major development and a broad push to revitalise Great Harbour Cay and encourage increased domestic and international air traffic into the Berry Islands,” Mr Davis said at the official opening on Friday for Great Harbour Cay International Airport, which has been completed after more than three years of construction.

“The reason why we are cutting the ribbon, and the reason why it is so fitting that we do is because we started this. They used to say, some sow and some reap, well we sowed, they (the former administration) tended and we’re now reaping,” he said.

“We set out how we would prioritise Family Island development. As you know, both the leader and deputy leader of the country are island boys and so family islanders, you know ‘we for you’.

Our goal is to decentralise our national wealth and create resilient family island economies,” Mr Davis said.

Tourism, Aviation and Investments Minister Chester Cooper, who was also at the ceremony, pointed to a recent boost in tourism in the area.

“This airport was started to be built in 2019 in earnest, today we’re finished. It’s a new construction, 9,500 square feet inside, 4,800 feet runway. It’s a tier two airport certified by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). And I understand that at least 15 people are going to be employed here at this airport,” he said.

As you know, what is good for aviation is good for tourism. And I am happy that we have been doing quite well here in the Berry Islands in tourism, this year, we attracted in this area by cruise and air 1.2 million visitors, which is roughly 64 percent ahead of where we were in 2019,” Mr Cooper said.

“Hopefully at some stage we will be able to provide some direct international service to this airport, but it’s good for the investment and growth of this island,” he said.

Mr Cooper said that the completion of this new facility is just the beginning of a very aggressive push to upgrade the airport infrastructure throughout The Bahamas.

“We anticipate that over the course of our next few years, we’re going to be rolling out several more across The Bahamas, with Great Harbour Cay leading the way,” Mr Cooper said.

“We’re already working diligently on Cat Island. You know that works. Preliminary works have restarted on Exuma. We expect these airports to be completed swiftly. Grand Bahama, we’re going to be making an announcement (soon) and suffice to say we’re narrowing this selection of a private public partner. And then we’re going to be looking as well at Long Island,” he said.

“So this is going to be sustained. We were not going to take three years to build the other airports that’s in the pipeline. So, I expect that we’re going to be cutting some ribbons in due course, hopefully soon,” Mr Cooper said.

Leonardo Lightbourne, MP for North Andros and the Berry Islands, said the addition of the new international airport on Great Harbour Cay will result in many other benefits for residents.

“With this new and improved international airport, this will have many effects on the Berry Islands: The number of airlines is expected to increase, strengthened ties with Coco Cay and Great Stirrup Cay, which will equate to increased tourist arrivals. Our local resort numbers will increase and the local economy will be boosted with more jobs,” Mr Lightbourne said.

“The Berry Islands are known all around the world for their bonefishing. With increased marketing, we can host more tournaments and fishing expos on this island. This is indeed a proud day to see the official opening of this new international airport. It has been a long time coming,” he said.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.