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Bahamas takes $50 million air transport loan in a bid to increase Bahamas flights

  • 26-Dec-11 10:47
  • Bahamas
  • Caribbean News Digital

The Inter-American Development Bank approved a $50 million loan to the Bahamas. The money will be invested in a programme geared at improving the country's air transport system and modernising its airports with the aim of increasing Bahamas flights.

Bahamas takes $50 million air transport  loan in a bid to increase Bahamas flights

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently announced the approval of a $50 million loan to the Bahamas towards its air transport reform programme. A total of $47.5 million have been allocated towards sector reforms while the remaining $2.5 million will be invested in technical support.

Esteban Diez Roux of the IDB stated the following, “The Bahamian economy is based on two pillars: tourism and international financial services, both of which are aviation intensive...The program will promote the development of safe and efficient air transport in the country following international standards. The air transport is crucial to ensure mobility and transport of goods, services and people in the country, as well as to integrate The Bahamas within the Caribbean region and also internationally.”

The air transport reform programme, lead by the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation in the Bahamas, is aimed at both improving the inter island transportation system for the local residents dependent on air transport to move between the 700 islands and cays that comprise the Bahamas and increasing the number of tourists taking Bahamas holidays and give travellers more options for cheap Bahamas flights.

The Bahamas has a long-standing reputation as one of the Caribbean’s top holiday destinations, with over half of the country’s GDP being generated by tourism. As such an effective and modern air transport system is crucial for the country’s economy. While cruise ship arrivals are on the increase, holidaymakers booking their flights to the Bahamas continue to generate the largest portion of tourist expenditure with an estimated B$2000 spent on average per person for a four night stay.

Although the Bahamas commanded a noteworthy 22 per cent share in tourism to the Caribbean region this year, recent reports indicate that the Bahamas has seen 7.3 per cent decline in the number of tourists opting for Bahamas holidays in 2011. The noted downward trend in tourist arrivals is owed in large part to the country’s dependence on U.S. holidaymakers. However, another worrying trend for the Bahamas is the increase in the number of holidaymakers taking cruise ship holidays to the Bahamas. The growth in the number of people searching for affordable all inclusive cruise Bahamas holidays have detracted from the share of travellers taking independent flights to the Bahamas, the main mode of transport for holidaymakers booking overnight stays. This phenomenon has dangerous implications for the wider tourism sector including the many Bahamas hotels and Bahamas restaurants. All these factors suggest that the Bahamian government may soon come under pressure to inject new life into the tourism sector; and the newly funded air transport reform programme may be just the solution.

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