Airlines Skeptical On MOT's Free Airfare Promotion

Tuesday, 09 March 2010 00:00 News Editor
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Bahamian-owned private airlines yesterday responded to news of the Government's plan to offer free airfare to the Family Islands through their services by saying they "know nothing about the deal".

Captain Randy Butler, Sky Bahamas' chief executive, said he had not been briefed by any Ministry of Tourism agents of the new promotion to provide free airfare to the Family Islands.

Minister of Tourism, Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, said the deal was the precursor to the local airlines being added to the Global Distribution System (GDS), which is part of a computerised reservation system used by travel agencies.

However, this new deal is somehow focused on package airfares to the Family Islands, once visitors have booked for four room nights or more.

Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said the deal was the direct result of the Ministry's companion airfare deal that has seemed to boost the country's air arrivals significantly.

Plan

Captain Butler said he was sceptical about the plan, as Bahamasair, which is also a local carrier, is a part of the GDS and could be favoured when packages are purchased - especially with its recently decreased rates to the Family Islands.

Mr Vanderpool-Wallace did not immediately explain how the booking system for the airlines would work or how the price of the airfare would be subsidised.

"We have been doing something about domestic tourism even as we seek to grow the number of overseas visitors to the Family Islands," he said.

"All of these offers will be available online and by telephone for both residents in the Bahamas and to visitors from overseas.

"To reiterate the point perhaps ad nauseum, a tourism industry has to look at the total cost of the vacation to the visitor, including airfare and including the time to travel to the destination.

"In an archipelago, tourism and aviation are inextricably linked for international tourism and for domestic tourism."

Source: The Tribune