Bahamas Minister of Transport and Aviation the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin and Li Jiaxiang, Chief of the Civil Aviation Administration of China yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding to allow for increased air traffic between China and The Bahamas.

Reportedly, the MoU is for an air service agreement (ASA) between China and The Bahamas, providing the legal framework to facilitate air traffic between the two countries. Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie presided at the signing ceremony yesterday. He said, “*We feel that our future looks bright when it comes to closer relations between the Peoples Republic of China and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, particularly in the context of Chinese tourists who spend a lot of money around the world. In our meetings, we anticipated that one day soon we would be having and receiving more of those tourists in The Bahamas.”*

Minister Hanna-Martin quoted estimates of about 140 million Chinese tourists travelling to other countries this year. *“If The Bahamas got just a small, tiny fraction of that, it would be an incredibly significant impact to the marketplace,”* she said. *“This is a significant day in the history of our country, and we believe that this will (lead) towards stronger relations between the two countries, air traffic ultimately, and an impact on our economy.”*

Li Jiaxiang said *“In recent years we have witnessed important enhancements and improvements in national relations between China and The Bahamas. Especially since the visit of Prime Minister Christie, we have experienced ever-intensifying relations between our two countries. We have expanded our cooperation, both in terms of the depth and the scope.“* The Civil Aviation Chief further noted that the past few years has also seen ever-increasing investments of Chinese companies in The Bahamas, plus increased “people to people” exchanges. He also commented on the beauty of The Bahamas, and the strength of the country’s tourism infrastructure. *“So we believe that it’s high time – the right time – that we have air links between China and The Bahamas and it’s very important that we have air services between our two countries. The MOU will lay an important foundation for the direct air links, and also for the ever-increasing aviation relations between our two countries,”* Li said.