Minister of Tourism and Aviation the Hon. Neko Grant (right) poses with WestJet Director of Culture and Communications Mr. Richard Bertram on November 5, 2007 during the inaugural flight ceremony for the Canadian airline’s new seasonal non-stop service to The Bahamas. (BIS photo: Derek Smith)
By Eric Rose
NASSAU, Bahamas – The commencement of Canadian airline WestJet’s new seasonal non-stop service to The Bahamas is an example of how the attractiveness of the nation as a vacation destination continues to entice major air carriers to it shores, Minister of Tourism and Aviation the Hon. Neko Grant said on Monday, November 5.
“We are impressed by the fact that in conjunction with pioneering low-cost high value flying in Canada, WestJet has built an enviable reputation during its 10-year history for exemplary customer service on its modern fleet,” Minister Grant said during a press conference following the airline’s inaugural flight from Calgary, Alberta.
“This combination of low fares and quality service will, we believe, serve The Bahamas well, as we seek to enhance our position as the destination of first choice for warm-weather vacations,” he added.
Founded in 1996, WestJet serves 38 destinations with a fleet of Boeing-Next–Generation 737 jet aircraft. It will offer nine weekly flights from Toronto and Calgary.
Minister Grant said the number of flights is expected to grow to 12 weekly flights by February 2008 with additional departures from Halifax, Nova Scotia and Hamilton, Ontario.
“If the airline’s 80 to 90 percent load factors on its current Toronto/Nassau service are any indication of what we can expect, The Bahamas can look forward to healthy bookings on this new route, provided the services perform up to expectations,” he said.
Minister Grant added that in addition to targeting an entirely new market for The Bahamas, WestJet’s nonstop service also allows for easy, same-day connections from large Western Canadian cities such as Vancouver and Edmonton.
“This new WestJet service opens up the lucrative and oil-rich western provinces of Canada to The Bahamas,” Minister Grant added. “It has the potential to deliver Canadian consumers seeking a quality vacation with unique experiences at a reasonable price.”
To support the Ministry’s increased focus on this growth area, Minister Grant said it launched a radio and out-of-home marketing campaign in the Calgary area last month, which will run through March 2008.
Additionally, he added, through WestJet Vacations, Canadians now have increased opportunities to visit the Family Islands including such islands as Abaco, Andros, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Long Island and Grand Bahama Island.
“This is an area we wish to fully explore, as it speaks to the diversity of the vacation experience our Canadian visitors can enjoy,” Minister Grant said.