British Airways Strike Threatens Tourist Arrivals

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The threat of a U.K. air tax hike may be overshadowed by a more imminent danger, with a top Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) executive pointing to the effects a possible British Airways strike could have on air arrivals from that destination.

The possibility comes as hotels in the nation are already preparing for a Christmas travel season that mirrors that of last year.

"British Airways is very important not only to direct flights we get from the U.K. but all of their connecting flights," BHA Executive Director Frank Comito told Guardian Business. "We're aware of their problems [and] we're hoping they could sort it out because it's very important to us."

His statements follow recent threats of a strike at the company, following announcements of an intention to cut around 1,000 jobs. If carried out, the strike would be conducted during the peak holiday travel season, affecting nation's like The Bahamas that now heavily depend on holiday visitor arrivals boosts.

According to Comito, British Airways has been key in boosting air arrivals to The Bahamas from that destination.

"The Bahamas' numbers have increased on the British Airways portion of that flight over the past couple of years," he added. "It's a very important flight to The Bahamas."

The strike would come as Tourism officials move to lift arrivals from that destination, through a promotional strategy in which 14 filmmakers are being recruited to produce a short film featuring life on the Family Islands.

While many visitors to The Bahamas appreciate the draws of New Providence, and to a lesser extent Grand Bahama, European visitors historically are known to gravitate to the more tranquil, peaceful destinations.

Tourism's Director General Vernice Walkine asserts the upcoming promotional strategy is key to getting the word out that The Bahamas not only boasts the excitement of city life, but the charm of island life that has made a success of other countries' tourism product.

"You will see that the [film project] challenge is designed to build greater awareness of The Bahamas and appreciation of our beauty, particularly in the United Kingdom," she said earlier. "This lines up perfectly with our main strategic goal of attracting U.K. travelers to the islands of The Bahamas in 2009 and 2010.

"In order to increase our market share of U.K. travelers, we have set out to communicate the range and diversity of these islands."

Comito and other executives are now hoping the strike issue is resolved in short order.

Source: The Nassau Guardian