Nassau, The Bahamas – Another boost has been injected in the tourism industry with the addition of a new airline service to The Bahamas. The Ministry of Tourism & Aviation announced that Copa Airlines would begin nonstop air service from Panama to Nassau commencing on June 15, 2011.
This is the first time in history that The Bahamas will be able to offer this type of service to visitors from Latin America. The announcement was made on January 20, during a press conference held at the British Colonial Hilton.
Director General of the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. David Johnson, said that this is a move in the positive direction, as The Bahamas will now have direct access to tourists from this growing and lucrative region. “For many decades now, we have known that the desire to travel to our country from South and Central America is quite high and still rising,” said Mr. Johnson.
“The televised Miss Universe Pageant from Nassau/Paradise Island in 2009 was very effective in increasing our visitors from this region, however, the means to travel from that region was not sufficient for us to capitalise on that demand.”
Mr. Johnson said that with the addition of this new air service, The Bahamas is in a ‘better position’ to benefit from that region. Copa Airlines will provide both departing and return flights every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from Panama to Nassau.
The airline will utilize the Embaer 190 jet aircraft, which has the capacity to carry 94 passengers. The new flights will depart from Panama at 9:18 AM and arrive in Nassau at 1:03PM. Return flights will depart from Nassau at 3:25PM and arrive in Panama City at 5:02PM. Mr. Johnson also pointed out that news is also ‘good’ for Bahamians who will now be able to travel directly to Panama.
The new service will offer both Business and Economy classes with some 84 seats offered in economy and 10 seats in the premium President class section of the aircraft. Tourism officials are projecting that this new service will bring some 14,500 new visitors to The Bahamas in the first year and generate some 37,000-room nights that will boost hotel revenues by over $7 million in its first year.
The potential spend in the economy is estimated at just over $17 million. According to Mr. Johnson, the addition of Copa Airlines and their extensive network is also a positive beginning for the new and expanded Lynden Pindling International Airport whose main objective is to establish Nassau as a major hub for the Caribbean with access points to the Americas.
Stage one of the new airport – construction of a new U.S. terminal and pier – is set to be open to the public for previews on February 26, 2011 and is expected to be fully operational by March 5.
By Betty Vedrine
Bahamas Information Services