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Govt seeking direct charter flights from Russia

  • According to Prime Minister Perry Christie, Resorts World and Genting Group Chairman Kok Thay Lim and his team are assisting the government with finding a strategic airline partner in an effort to attract Russian tourists. TNG FILE PHOTO

Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Jul 05, 2013

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The country’s tourism product is expected to receive quite a boost early next year from Russia.

Prime Minister Perry Christie recently made the announcement that come January 2014, there will be direct charter flights between The Bahamas and Russia.

“Resorts World and Genting Group Chairman Kok Thay Lim and his team are assisting us with finding a strategic airline partner that would be able to facilitate much-needed expanded airlift in and out of the country,” he said.

Last Friday, Christie, members of his Cabinet and other key officials christened a cruise ship which he said is expected to bring up to 400,000 passengers to Bimini on an annual basis. He also opened a new Resorts World Casino, which is expected to inject millions of dollars into the small island economy.

The prime minister’s comments about the direct service into The Bahamas from Russia comes nearly two months after Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe revealed to Guardian Business that his ministry is looking to expand its reach by attracting business from the United Arab Emirates.

“They have had massive growth. Notwithstanding all of the other assets that they may have, there has been a heavy focus placed on its tourism industry,” according to Wilchcombe.

And just last week, executives at Delta Airlines confirmed that it is one of the major carriers in discussions with some of the country’s top resorts and tourism officials about increased airlift into The Bahamas.

Nicolas Ferri, vice president of Latin America & Caribbean at Delta Airlines, pointed out to Guardian Business that it is the airline’s intent to provide the amount of capacity that is consistent with demand.

He pointed out that the ongoing discussions between the airline and the country’s tourism stakeholders are spearheaded by MLT, Delta’s vacations arm.

“Of course, anytime you serve a destination as popular as The Bahamas, you have to negotiate because it makes good business sense. That’s just the beginning in terms of how many more opportunities the island will have as it continues to expand its infrastructure,” Ferri said.

“Our vacations arm MLT is really the face of the negotiations with the hotels. As an airline, we tend to make sure that we provide the best possible amount of capacity that’s consistent with demand. That’s our focus, in addition to selling and marketing.”

Earlier this year, David Johnson, director general at the Ministry of Tourism, projected a solid year regarding airlift. A new route to Chicago, Illinois, set to come on stream in the second half of the year, and service to Tampa, Florida are expected to boost arrivals.

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