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Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe in a recent interview said an increase to the departure tax in place of some of the new and increased aviation fees may be “an acceptable position” for all sides as the government anticipates a greater return from air arrivals. Mr. Wilchcombe said, “We want to make sure that the airlift numbers increase. It’s one thing to say look at the new rate, but that rate has to be predicated on your deliverables and we’re expecting a greater return.”

New airport fees to be replaced

Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe in a recent interview said an increase to the departure tax in place of some of the new and increased aviation fees may be “an acceptable position” for all sides as the government anticipates a greater return from air arrivals.

Mr. Wilchcombe said, “We want to make sure that the airlift numbers increase. It’s one thing to say look at the new rate, but that rate has to be predicated on your deliverables and we’re expecting a greater return.”

He added that dialogue between tourism industry players and the Government was ongoing.

When the new fees were carried out in July the Airlines for America coalition, which represents key operators such as Jet Blue, Delta and American Airlines, along with others organizations warned that its members “may be forced to reconsider their service levels to the Bahamas” if the new aviation fees were not adjusted.

This included the new $75 fee to be paid to Customs by commercial and private pilots when landing in and departing from the Bahamas along with an additional $50 fee for processing forms by Customs, and a $50 fee to refuel.

“The way they are suggesting is the possibility of adjusting or replacing the existing fees with an increase in the departure tax for passengers. We’re working with the airlines, the Bahamas Hotel Association. All the stakeholders have been sitting and talking. I think that’s an acceptable position by all right now, but of course you have to wait and see what happens and we’re continuing the dialogue,” said Mr. Wilchcombe.

He said that now is the time to make these changes in order to have the “airlift and inventory” in place so that the country can “benefit handsomely”.

“If you don’t move now you’re likely to be running behind those other countries, the competitors, who are moving with haste. This is a critical time now for us to be in the game as the economy begins to turn,” he said.

“Everything that happens in America and other parts of the world, we are affected by it, but more particularly the United States and the eastern seaboard. We have over the last 10 years depended heavily on the North American market, so if we’re going to change that scenario we have to ensure that there is a comfortability with the airlines.”

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About Timothy Roberts

Timothy Roberts

Timothy had his first venture into Journalism just months after graduating from Queen’s College in Nassau taking his first job with The Tribune in 1991 leaving in 1992 for other pursuits.

During his time in Nassau he diversified his experiences working as a warehouse manager, locksmith and computer technician before returning to Abaco, a place he has always considered home, in 1999.

He joined the staff of The Abaconian in 2001 doing graphic design and writing an opinion article called Generally Speaking and after a brief time away, returned to The Abaconian in 2010 as a reporter, graphic designer and computer technician.

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2 comments

  1. Dear Timothy,

    Your report on the surcharges for air travelers was very level headed. I only wish the Bahamian goverment was so alert and level headed. Many tens of thousands fly from Europe over the Bahamas and on to the Caribbean. Why? Because the flights are HALF the cost of flying to the Bahamas.Until the cost of flights come down then the Bahamas will lose out on thousands of travelers. People want direct and low cost flights. I looked at a holiday in the Bahamas last year for my family and for the cost of flights only, I could stay allinclusive for 10 nights in many other Caribbean destination. Europe is a massive area that the Bahamas has lost out on. Only six years ago on my first visit to the Bahamas I could fly with 3 UK airlines direct to Nassau now you are down to one and it is very expensive!

    Please feel free to publish this as a letter.

    Kind regards

    Mr Watt.

    From Scotland. UK.

  2. I am a homeowner in Hopetown, and I have seen the air line rates from Florida to Marsh Harbor skyrocket. I am having trouble getting friends to join us in Hopetown because of the high cost of flying…from less than 300 miles away!! My friends and relatives are interested to come to the Bahamas but start to rethink a FREE stay in Hopetown due to the fact that it costs $650 dollars PER PERSON to go from Daytona to Marsh Harbor and back. This is a threat not only to those Bahamians engaged in business but to those foreigners who have invested their money in property there. Something must change with airline fees or there will be no full recovery anytime soon.

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