Friday, August 27, 2010

Giving pilots a 'bird's eye' view of Grand Bahama

By K. NANCOO-RUSSELL

Freeport News Reporter
Freeport, Grand Bahama- The Ministry of Tourism welcomed 40 members of the Florida aviation industry to Grand Bahama yesterday as part of its eighth annual Familiarization Tour.

The goal of the trip was to educate individuals on how easy it is for private pilots to fly their aircraft to and around the islands.

The group, comprised of pilots, fixed base operator (FBO) managers, customer service personnel, members of the media and flying clubs who participated in a round table discussion at the Our Lucaya Resort with Bahamas Customs and Immigration, Civil Aviation and local fixed base operators.

Greg Rolle, chief pilot and aviation specialist at the Ministry of Tourism's Florida office explained that the event was an important part of the ministry's efforts to drive tourists to The Bahamas.

"The indicators show us that a certain amount of our traffic comes from the United States and the majority of that, almost 65 percent of them come out of the state of Florida alone," he shared.

"So it just makes sense for us to cover all of those airports. A lot of these pilots do not even know about The Bahamas and all of the amenities that we have.

"We wanted to educate them, show them our product, show them what we have to offer in The Bahamas."

The visitors were shown a presentation about the airport by the director of commercial and business development for the Grand Bahama Airport Company, James Turner.

Turner said the company believes that it must make a greater effort to reach out to potential visitors.

"We've got to take a stronger posture in moving forward in determining how much traffic and what traffic comes through the airport," he said.

"It is incredible how people are flying over Grand Bahama going to Abaco, Eleuthera, Exuma all of these other islands when we're so close and we have better facilities in most cases than many of the other places."

Representatives of the airport company recently made sales calls to several FBOs in south Florida and presented the attributes of Grand Bahama, he explained.

"Many of them hadn't been here in many years and had some less than honourable tastes in their mouths about what they experienced the last time they were here, so we extended an invitation for them to consider doing a familiarization trip."

Turner said he intended to speak with the group about some of the previous impediments to their use of the airport, and announced some of the things the company plans to introduce in the near future, such as the presentation of a new FBO facility at the airport.

Following the round table discussion, the group was hosted to a welcome reception and dinner, sponsored by the Grand Bahama Airport Company, the Ministry of Tourism's Grand Bahama office and the Grand Bahama Promotion Board.

The group will leave Grand Bahama today and travel to Green Turtle Cay, Abaco and then to George Town, Exuma.

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