The year 2020 will be a busy year in regards to the construction of airports, the most important tourism gateways into The Bahamas. Director of Aviation Algernon Cargill told Guardian Business yesterday that construction has already begun on the Berry Islands airport on Great Harbour Cay and others are set to go to tender.
Successive governments have been criticized for ignoring the upkeep of many family island airports. Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar told Guardian Business yesterday that airports remain a priority for him in 2020. He explained that passengers will likely have to suffer the “imposition” of a passenger facility charge added to their ticket costs, explaining that it has been the lack of such a charge that led to the state of The Bahamas’ airports.
“That has led to a country that has 28 airports to be starved of funds,” D’Aguilar said.
He added that the redevelopment of airports across the country are vital to the economic development and economic success of the Family Islands.
“We really have to improve the overall experience of persons using the Family Islands,” said D’Aguilar.
The importance of stopover visitors has long been touted as the most important golden egg of the tourism goose, as those tourism dollars stretch father than those of cruise passengers.
Cargill explained that the Great Harbour Cay airport will cost $3 million to construct.
He explained that the airport on Exuma, which has been one of the most widely criticized airports, is “about ready to go to tender”, while the airport on Long Island, which is also often widely criticized, is in the design phase.
According to Cargill, the acquisition of property surrounding North Eleuthera’s airport, one of the busiest family island airports, is still a topic of discussion with the Harbour Island Commonage Committee, which has rights to the land under commonage law.
“The design of that airport is complete. It is going to copy the design of Exuma and we’re in discussion with the Commonage Committee to obtain the land that we want and of course acquisition of the land is an option,” Cargill said.
He added that the Hurricane Dorian-ravaged airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, continues to have maintenance work carried out on it. The government has decided not to replace the Treasure Cay airport, but will enter into discussions with private airport companies to develop it into a fixed-base operator.
“There is obviously a lot to do; we will be busy this year,” Cargill said.