FREEPORT – Director General of Tourism Vernice Walkine said the Ministry will focus on Grand Bahama’s close proximity to the United States, with this proximity reflected in a low cost of airfare to the consumer.


Ms. Walkine was addressing the 11th Annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook held at the Our Lucaya Resort Monday.


“We cannot be close but priced as though far away,” she said. “This airfare reduction strategy we believe will stimulate demand for Grand Bahama more than any other single initiative or rebate offer, creating an unassailable competitive position for the destination during and after this economic crisis.”


Tourism’s Director General pointed out that in spite of having an even greater proximity advantage than Nassau in every USA market, Grand Bahama’s seat costs to the consumer remain higher than that of Nassau and several other major destinations further away; due in part to the cost of operating at Grand Bahama International Airport.


She added that as Tourism moves forward to re-position and re-claim the competitive edge in the shrunken global tourism market, the International Airport must be in sync with all their other marketing and developmental strategies.


“It must function as a proper gateway that will enhance the tourism product and be a catalyst for tourism growth.  In fact, with it share of fees, taxes and surcharges, Grand Bahama International Airport has the highest turnaround costs in the region.


“However, through partnership and collaboration with the Airport operator and the Tourism Board, we will effect a schedule of incentives by the reduction or elimination of some of these taxes and fees that will enable us to attract new lifts to the destination, reduce the turnaround cost to the existing carriers, and we will be better positioned to promote affordable travel packages to Grand Bahama Island and guarantee our status as leaders in the Caribbean,” Walkine said.




Director General of Tourism Vernice Walkine addresses the 11th Annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook held Monday, February 23, 2009 at the Our Lucaya Resort. (BIS Photo/Vandyke Hepburn)