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Two hundred percent growth in corporate aviation

Noting that there has been rapid growth in corporate aviation in recent months, Jet Nassau General Manager Charles Bowe said there has been a 200 percent increase in private arrivals since the start of lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions late last year.

He was a panelist during a World Tourism Day webinar hosted by The Financial Voice. He also outlined some the major challenges plaguing private aviation and the top one percenters that come to The Bahamas that way.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase as a result of the restrictions being lifted. And this increase was almost instantaneous. It was quite difficult for spontaneous arrivals, meaning that we had the travel health visa in place, some persons found that very difficult and particularly with the one percenters documentation is always a challenge for them, so they’re going to go to a destination where it isn’t required. For example, Cancun doesn’t require anything, the Dominican Republic doesn’t require anything, so you can just fly to those destinations without having any sort of COVID protocols, so it was a definite plus when we decided to lift those restrictions,” he said.

“The main challenge is infrastructure and also properties. During the peek periods, clients finding rooms that meet their level of expectation is challenging. It seems that everyone wants to travel on the same day, the weekend, and we don’t have that many high-end properties. There’s Ocean Club, Atlantis, Baha Mar, we have Albany now. But when you look at the numbers these are not that many rooms. If we really want to increase our numbers the first thing we’re going to have to do is increase our infrastructure, make it easier for persons to get to The Bahamas.”

Bowe said The Bahamas is also missing out on attracting some of the world’s fastest growing millionaires in South America and Central Asia.

“South America is seeing tremendous growth in earnings. The net worth of individuals in Brazil, Chile, Colombia have grown exponentially because they have a hug mining and agricultural base and that’s been a fast growing sector. Turkey and Central Asia, vast growth in wealth. We do not have links to these areas,” he said.

“We have some challenges now at LPIA [Lynden Pindling International Airport], where during peek periods we experience considerable delays, airlines waiting for gates. Its an impediment and frowned upon when you have a visitor and his first impression is waiting 30 minutes, an hour to get off an aircraft and once you get inside there’s another 30 minutes to clear immigration.”

According to Bowe, strategic partnerships with the private aviation industry and the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) are required to ensure The Bahamas is offering its very best to the world’s most wealthy clientele.

“We’ve seen such rapid growth in the corporate aviation sector that we have determined that we ourselves have to somehow meet the needs of this particular sector, with the help of stakeholders around the airport and throughout The Bahamas,” he said.

“We have to come together as a group and meet the demand of what is expected, of what we call our high-end visitors to The Bahamas. Dr. Kenneth Romer [MoT deputy director general] for his part has started a number of group chats, which is pretty new to our sector, and the communication has been radical. Very easy to communicate with, and on our part we are investing heavily in the sector because there is a lot of competition in this sector, in the tourism industry. Private aviation arrivals, expenditures far exceed that of any of the tourist arrivals and we want to take advantage of that. My family has worked closely with other tourism groups, including hotels, to learn what these guests are looking for and we see the need for quite a bit of improvement in our industry.

“In my industry we have seen a 200 percent growth in arrivals. That is unheard of. We have come together as a group to invest heavily in the sector and we will see this development over the next few months, and tourism executives have really backed us in these decisions. Tourism is a very competitive market and we have to as a group continuously improve our product.

“Jet Nassau has made the decision to invest heavily and we faith in our product, we have faith in The Bahamas and what we have to offer. We have very high aspirations as to future of The Bahamas.”