Tourism officials are not only focused on sports-related events but want to bring more diverse events to The Bahamas to help boost the economy, according to Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe.
Minister Wilchcombe refuted claims by naysayers who have accused ministry officials of only focusing on sports tourism.
Over the last year, the ministry has hosted several big sporting events including hosting the Miami Heat training camp last summer, the IAAF World Relays in May and The Bahamas HBCUX Football Classic which is scheduled for next month.
The tourism minister said however that his team is working on all fronts to boost all areas of tourism and the economy for The Bahamas.
“It’s a new trend to go after the big event,” Minister Wilchcombe said.
“In fact in November at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London on the agenda is a discussion on big events because it’s proven to work such as the Olympics and the IAAF so sports tourism has worked for us and we will continue to explore it. We are doing other things though. In religious tourism you will see a major jump beginning in September and October. We are getting some major events to come here.”
Minister Wilchcombe added that there will also be a boost in conventions coming to The Bahamas over the next several months.
“We also have major conventions coming here as well – we have an aviation convention taking place, a medical convention is going to take place also,” he said.
“The major hotels are doing very well attracting conventions so the way we see it, if we can get more airlift and do some other things we will be successful all around. We are using advertisers and opening offices around the world and doing the best we can with respect to achieving our goals. We will go back on the streets and generate new relationship with the travel agencies so it will all come together and pay off.”
He said the most important thing is that more airlift is added to make it easier to get to The Bahamas and several big announcements will be made in the coming weeks with respect to that.
Southwest Airlines recently added a direct flight from Baltimore to New Providence.
Sources within the ministry claim that more flights will be added from Europe as well as Asia.
Earlier this year ministry officials held meeting with several airlines including US Airways, Jet Blue, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.
In addition, US Airways continues to provide year-round or seasonal non-stop air service from its Charlotte hub, Philadelphia, and Cleveland to Nassau/Paradise Island.
The tourism minister confirmed that a meeting was also held with Copa Airlines, which provides year-round nonstop scheduled air service to Nassau/Paradise Island from Panama, with connecting flights from several Latin American markets such as Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.
British Airways officials have also had talks with local ministry officials.
Exploratory meetings were also held with several airlines with the potential to bring increased seat capacity to The Bahamas from Latin America.