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Ministry of Tourism working with NAD on new initiatives

New tourism initiatives will be rolled out in conjunction with the opening of Stage One of the Lynden Pindling International Airport, with the director general of tourism saying a number of campaigns are planned with the launch of the airport expansion.

David Johnson toldGuardian Businesslast week that the Ministry of Tourism has several programs on tap in 2011 that will provide a boost to the sector, and one of those plans involves a partnership with Nassau Airport Development(NAD).

“We are working very closely with NAD…We are collaborating with them on several items as they are a big part of our plans,”Johnson said.”They are the gateway for The Bahamas and the center of our new strategy. We are very close partners with them, working in an integrated away with the operators of the airport to build tourism and for them to build traffic.”

He noted that he is working closely with the former Director General of Tourism Vernice Walkine, who is now the vice-president of marketing and communications with NAD. Johnson mentioned that her direct experience with the tourism industry along with her current position places Tourism at a greater advantage in terms of launching its initiatives effectively.

Johnson didn’t reveal specifically what plans will be launched with the airport, noting that other nations may try to duplicate those ideas before they go live in the country. But he said that a formal announcement will be made in the near future.

“Because news is global, you can’t let the competition peep your cards,”Johnson said.”One of our competitors copied our Companion Fly Free program but wasn’t able to deliver it as effectively as us. We would rather be copied than to be beat out the gates, so news on our plans will be announced at the right time.”

According to NAD’s annual report incoming passengers to LPIA increased to 3.1 million in 2010, a small rise from 2009 but down from 3.4 million in 2008. Despite the minimal growth, the airport management company is setting a long term goal to handle 5.8 million passengers annually by 2025. According to Johnson the new campaigns by the ministry will fall in line with NAD’s plans to boost traffic, and proper planning must be done to ensure that they are executed effectively.

Stage One of the$409.5 million LPIA expansion project will unveil the new U.S. departures terminal, which is around 80 percent complete. Estimated at$198 million, the first phase is millions under its projected budget and is expected to open in March.

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