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$7m boost projected from new Panama flights

Tourism is projecting a$7 million boost to hotel room revenues over the next year through a new Copa Airlines direct route from Panama–set to wing in 14,500 new passengers interested not only in leisure, but the country’s financial services sector.

Just over$17 million in potential visitor spend has been calculated to be injected into the economy from the new non-stop service, which offers some 84 economy seats and 10 seats in its premium President class.

“”The new Copa Airlines service will attract more visitors from the Latin American region with immediate connections to and from The Bahamas,”said Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace in a statement sent toGuardian Businessyesterday.”Expanding airlift with Copa, whose powerful Panama City hub provides leisure and business travellers from some 20 Latin American destinations,(will give them)direct access to the islands of The Bahamas, while featuring the most modern fleet of jet aircraft in the entire region.

“This service will be a boost not only to our tourism sector but also our financial services and other business sectors.”

Bahamas Financial Services Board(BFSB)CEO Wendy Warren said the service was something executives in the financial services sector have been requesting for many years. They argue that kind of direct service straight from Panama would provide better access to clients and by extension, facilitate growth in the financial services industry.

It’s a benefit centered around the fact that while visas are not required for Central and South American residents visiting The

Bahamas, in the past travellers from those destinations may have had to connection through the U.S., where visas are required. It’s a hassle Warren is happy to see the end of.

“Our business is still a face to face business,”she said yesterday.”Clients want to see you, have a sense of trust, look into the white of your eyes and see if there is a need for them to be concerned.

“For many, many years we’ve implored government through the Ministry of Tourism to seek ways to increase the number of channels for persons from Latin America to come to us.”

In a statement sent from the Ministry of Tourism yesterday, Copa Airlines said Nassau not only serves as one of the principal financial and business centers in the Caribbean, the island is also the hub of The Bahamas, providing direct access for travelers to visit and explore many of the destination’s 700 islands beyond Nassau and Paradise Island.

The Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board also played a significant role in securing the new carrier, said the ministry, which said aggressive work was being done to increase airlift from key markets they feel will be stimulated with new non-stop or convenient, one-stop direct service.

Copa Airlines will begin non-stop service from Panama to Nassau as of June 15, 2011, with both departing and return flights scheduled for travellers every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Copa Airlines will utilise the Embraer E190 jet aircraft on this new route, which has a capacity to carry 94 passengers. The new flights will depart Panama City at 9:18 a.m, arriving in Nassau at 1:03 p.m., and return flights will depart Nassau at 3:25 p.m., arriving in Panama City at 5:02 p.m.

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