FAMILY ISLAND AIRPORT UPGRADES TO IMPROVE VISITOR EXPERIENCE
As The Islands of The Bahamas prepares to welcome more tourists to the destination in 2018, officials are looking to revamp several Family Island airports to enhance the overall visitor experience.
According to Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar, there are 28 Family Island airports that are in need of facelifts and the government has made this a priority.
“We looked at all of the airports and we divided them into tier one, tier two and tier three. Tier one are the airports that receive the vast majority of visitors and they are Marsh Harbour, Exuma, North Eleuthera, Governor’s Harbour and San Salvador,” Minister D’Aguilar said.
The redevelopment of the airports will be done in phases, and those in tier one will be priority. However, the minister said there are others, which do not fall into that category that the government is considering for the first phase of upgrades
“Now there are other airports that are in desperate need of renovations so we are going to have to come out of tier one to go to tier two. For example, Long Island needs an airport. It’s been neglected for too long. The government is minded to pump some resources into those islands.”
Minister D’Aguilar said in order to fully rejuvenate the gateways, a public-private partnership is needed and he gave an idea of how the partnership will work.
“The government cannot afford to do it on its own. There will have to be public-private partnerships where we get private sector organizations to come and partner with the government,” he explained.
“The government will put in the land the buildings and retains ownership of it, they then put in their capital to rejuvenate it and then they get an operating lease with the government – much like how Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) runs the Lynden Pindling International Airport. We feel that that is the best model to revitalize our airports and that’s what we will be pursuing.”
The overall goal is the modernization and maintenance of the airports, and major infrastructure improvements, such as visual aids, lighting, runway beacons, mobile airport equipment, parking platforms and passenger terminals.