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Ministry of Tourism looking to grow private pilot market

The Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board is looking to further expand its high-end visitor market, teaming up with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association(AOPA)to tap into their 400,000 membership base.

Growth in this area of tourism is being done through a program offered by the board in the form of an incentive based-promotion that will save visitors up to$300 during their visit to the country. Chief Aviation Specialist with the Ministry of Tourism Greg Rolle toldGuardian Businessthat the recent success of the program was a driving factor behind forming a partnership with the AOPA.

“We’re working with AOPA and they have around 400,000 members, so we want to try and reach out to as many of them as possible to continue the success in this promotion,”Rolle said.”This is a high-end market and people who have money want to save every chance they get and this program gives them a high value vacation and a deal that makes sense.”

The initiative is geared towards private pilots and allows them to fly to one of 11 Family Islands with a minimum three night stay at one of the 33 participating hotels and resorts. The original booking window was scheduled for February 28, but based on the great amount of feedback, it was extended to April 30, 2011.

Rolle noted that the program was not heavily advertised, but the recent success, coupled with collaborating with the AOPA, would continue to drive the promotion in the right direction.

“It’s a great program and visitors need to know about the promotion,”Rolle said.”More people need to know about it and getting the word out was our drawback. The Senior Vice President of media for the AOPA Thomas Haines asked for the extension and thought it was a great initiative and intends to utilize his resources to attract more visitors to sign up for it.”

Haines recognized the success and potential of the program based on member feedback from a previous publication by the AOPA. He noted The Bahamas’commitment to continued growth in the niche market.

“After the article came out I received numerous inquiries from AOPA members wanting to take advantage of the program but the offer had expired,”Haines said.”I contacted Greg Rolle…and asked if they would consider extending the offer so that pilots could take advantage of it for flights to The Bahamas right before or after the Sun’n Fun Fly-In. Within a couple of days the offer was extended.

“That says a lot about how welcoming The Bahamas are to pilots flying light airplanes.”

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