NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas’ private aviation sector has witnessed ‘healthy’ growth this year, according to a private aviation executive and Bahamas Flying Ambassador, who urged this nation to safeguard this niche market against increasing competition.
Rick Gardner, director of CST Flight Services, which provides flight coordination and trip support services to the private aviation industry throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, believes the growth is due to the strong tourism rebound in the country and the Ministry of Tourism’s efforts.
“As I have said before, if you keep the procedures for flying to The Bahamas simple and low-cost, they will come,” Gardner remarked.
“Although it sounds counterintuitive, private pilots will fuss over small airport fees and then turn around and spend thousands of dollars on lodging, meals, ground transportation, and activities. Unlike yachts, which bring galleys, cabins, and water sports equipment with them, aircraft have none of that.
“That means that every time a private airplane’s wheels touch the ground, they will inject money into the local economy by renting cars or hiring taxi drivers, staying at a hotel, going to restaurants, and hiring someone local for diving, fishing, sailing, and touring.
“In addition, you will find that they prefer locally owned Bahamian resorts versus the ‘big box’ chains. I consider that to be a good thing for Bahamians and for the Bahamian economy,” Gardner remarked.
“It is important to be careful to protect this niche because other countries are looking at this market with jealous eyes and beginning to promote themselves to this market and reduce their airport fees to make their airports look more attractive. Examples are the Dominican Republic, Belize, and now Costa Rica.”