Bahamian pre-clearance facilities at two Florida fixed-base operators (FBO) could be up and running by the end of next month, facility organizer Andy Ingraham told Guardian Business yesterday, adding that the openings will present an economic opportunity for Family Islands in the midst of COVID-19.
Ingraham said high-net-worth individuals are still traveling through private aviation facilities, and will be able to take advantage of being pre-cleared into The Bahamas, having presented their negative COVID-19 tests and clearing immigration.
“We want to take advantage of the opportunity to bring additional revenue primarily into the Family Islands because private aviation is up,” said Ingraham.
“Obviously, the beauty about this system is that everyone is pre-tested prior to arrival, so there is no opportunity to contaminate anybody going into the Family Islands, and more importantly, it is able to put people to work with some of the villas and small hotels that are still operating.”
Ingraham said high-net-worth individuals are still traveling, as private aviation has reportedly seen a spike in 2020.
He added that those individuals would then likely want to take advantage of the lower density Family Islands, which are mostly free from the high COVID-19 numbers still showing on New Providence.
“This is an excellent time to rebuild the tourism industry within the Family Islands, which is typically what governments have sought to do, bring economics into the Family Islands,” Ingraham said.
“It allows local business people to buffer the impact of COVID-19.”
According to Ingraham, the bureaucracy associated with establishing the pre-clearance facilities is still ongoing, but he said he is confident in the progress of the process.
“For us, it’s something that obviously requires us going through the government procedure, but it’s moving through the system,” he said.
“I think the Ministry of Tourism is excited about the possibility of opening up The Bahamas and this gives them the opportunity to take advantage of an area that is relatively still safe for visitors, and providing COVID-19-free visitors, through testing, and you keep the economy going.
“This is a ray of hope in terms of being able to still capitalize on an industry that has had a lot of challenges with travel, but private aviation is up, which means that high-net-worth individuals would still go to the Family Islands, therefore, it can help us in the short-run.”