Remarks – Air Transport Agreement Signing Ceremony Between the US and The Bahamas

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie Bowers

Good morning.  Minister D’Aguilar, thank you for hosting the signing of this important agreement.  Minister Henfield, thank you as well for joining us this morning.

After many months of negotiations, we are thrilled to be here today to celebrate an agreement that will bring the United States and The Bahamas even closer together.

This new, revitalized Air Transport agreement will help create more affordable and more convenient aviation routes between our two countries.  It will facilitate additional flights directly from the United States to the Family Islands, giving international visitors and the Bahamian diaspora more opportunities to explore the vibrant culture and pristine waters of the entire archipelago.

Over the past two years, we have celebrated with you as the number of “stop-over” visitors to The Bahamas increased at record-setting rates.  Each additional day these visitors spend in your beautiful country helps fortify the Bahamian economy.

However, more than just simple economics, stop-over tourism allows visitors – the vast majority of whom are U.S. citizens – to deepen their understanding of The Bahamas.  It is my firm belief that this deeper understanding will lead to stronger, more enduring ties, including exciting new opportunities for both our countries throughout the Family Islands.

The agreement we are signing today will also help the United States to continue attracting Bahamians to our shores.  As we all know, Bahamians have made many important contributions to the United States, whether in business, sports, or entertainment.

And, Bahamians also contribute to our economy, whether purchasing our goods and services or attending our schools and universities.  With this agreement, we look forward to the increased Bahamian tourism, commerce, and investment in the United States that enhanced commercial air services will bring.

To commemorate the signing of this historic agreement, we are honored to have with us today the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Manisha Singh, one of the highest-ranking U.S. diplomats overseeing global economic affairs.  Her visit further underscores the U.S. government’s commitment to economic prosperity in The Bahamas, and to our continued commercial ties.

The U.S. government is also represented today by Deputy Assistant Secretary David Short from the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Deputy Assistant Secretary Short is responsible for seeking out more opportunities for economic partnerships in aviation.

I can think of no better way to declare The Bahamas “Open for Business” than to open up more of this beautiful country to the world.  Minister D’Aguilar, as your Ministry encourages visitors to “Fly Away to The Bahamas,” this new agreement will expand the possibilities for visitors to do so.

I now turn to Deputy Assistant Secretary David Short.  Thank you.