Exuma has a lot to offer locals and visitors alike. White sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters, mouth-watering food, and an abundance of fun activities, Exuma is one of the best destinations in the Bahamas.
One thing it doesn’t offer though is easy traveling. Exuma’s airport has been desperately in need of upgrades for years. Thankfully, the province is now set to receive a newly designed airport to handle the influx of tourists to the cays.
According to Aviator Director Algernon Cargill, the new $44 million airport expansion could establish the island as a mini-port for the southern Bahamas. Tourism to the Abacos has been severely impacted due to Hurricane Dorian, which means that a “sharper focus” will now be placed on islands such as Exuma to promote the nation’s tourism sector said Cargill.
“Exuma has always been extremely important to The Bahamas’s tourism product but it is even more important now since Dorian and its significant negative impact on the tourism product in Abaco and Grand Bahama. As a result we are going to see a sharper focus on Exuma. This means that the airport’s delivery is even more important than it has been in the past. We have done the studies and we are very pleased that the project is on track,” stated Cargill.
Exuma isn’t the only island getting airport upgrades though. Cargill underscored that there is more than $200 million slated in airport activity on the board. Deadman’s Cay Long Island is set to get a $15 million airport upgrade, and $70 million is set to go towards an airport in North Eleuthera.
While all of the Family Islands will benefit from these upgrades, Exuma is poised to become the hub. Cargill said that “The airport will be ready for business by 2020 and it is our objective to ensure that this 50,000 plus square foot airport is ready and we can take advantage of the opportunities that exist in Exuma post Dorian.”
He added: “Abaco has always been one of our busiest airports in The Bahamas. With the tourism product significantly impacted as a result of Dorian we have to look at other island to ensure that we continent to promote the product.”
The full scope of the Exuma airport expansion is expected to be announced soon, including both terminal redevelopment and runway expansion. Cargill said that the Bahamian government plans to make the Exuma airport “the best in the Caribbean, and we plan to replicate the same airport design in Exuma for North Eleuthera”.
To help with this project, the Bahamian government is working with Canadian-based Stantec Consulting Group.
“Airports are the gateway for tourism, and we want to ensure that The Bahamas remains competitive and rival those other airports globally,” Cargill said. “We want to ensure that these airports are viable for at least 20 years into the future.”