In what would be a major boost for those flying to the The Bahamas, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said it was testing preclearance of flights in Florida.
That would mean that travelers could go through immigration and customs in Florida before they boarded their flights to The Bahamas and not have to do so when they land in The Bahamas.
The system was first put in place by the Ministry of Finance to help facilitate delivery of relief supplies to Grand Bahama and Abaco after Hurricane Dorian.
But the system seemed to work so well that the Ministry of Tourism persuaded two Florida airports to keep the system in place on a test basis, it said.
“Florida has the largest number of private pilots in the United States and the third-largest number of registered aircraft,” Bahamas Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said. “The Florida airport operators are telling us that many private pilots hesitate when contemplating to fly to a foreign country. But if their approvals can be given before they take off from Florida, the operators are convinced that the traffic may substantially increase.
The Bahamas has long had US Customs and Immigration preclearance in Nassau and Grand Bahama, meaning travelers can go through US Customs and Immigration in The Bahamas before they arrive in the United States.
Minnis said a major reason for the continuation of the preclearance test was that it would help open up many more islands in The Bahamas for nonstop flights, without having to travel first to an official port of entry and then travel to their eventual destination.
“If the test is successful, this is likely to be an important plank in our plans to diversify the tourism centers across The Bahamas,” Minnis said.