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Baby steps to tourism boom with inaugural flight to ‘world’s most useless airport’
Date: October 16,2017
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Baby steps to tourism boom with inaugural flight to ‘world’s most useless airport’


The British island of St Helena has one of the world’s most isolated outposts and welcomed its first commercial flight on 14th October when the inaugural plane from Johannesburg touched down this south Atlantic island.

The 68 passengers on board clapped and cheered and were proud to be a part of this historic event. While sharing the experiences, passengers said how emotional they felt. Libby Weir-Breen, a British travel operator who has been bringing tourists to the island, has flown all the way from Scotland to be on the plane, and dabbed away tears as it touched down on the picturesque cliff-side runway.

Since 1930, there has been plans about building airport on St Helena but had topographical hurdles.

An airport at the new site, on top of a valley filled in with 8 million cubic metres of rock, suffered numerous setbacks and delays as costs ballooned to £285m, to the horror of the British government.  Although the runway and terminal were completed in 2016, this “the world’s most useless airport” did not open last year because of the cross-winds which makes it unsafe for the larger aircrafts.

The only way to St Helena was a five-night voyage from Cape Town aboard the RMS St Helena, a British postal ship which can now be accessed through the weekly flights to and from the South African commercial capital.

Although the inaugural flight had room for 100 passengers, but there were only 68 on them due to weight restrictions. The limited size of the planes now seems to a big challenge for the tourism to boom in the area.

Also, the hotel capacity has jumped in the last few years from just a few dozen rooms to more than 100, but, with a maximum of 3,500 visitors a year, the island is unlikely to be weaned off the £53m pounds it receives in aid every year from London.

Nonetheless, tourists can enjoy adventure tourism with scuba diving or might like to take a stroll across the unspoiled, serene beauty of the island. Napoleon’s old house, Longwood, and a cemetery are some of the other attractions for travellers visiting the island for the first time.

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