EDITOR, The Tribune.
For those Bahamians who agree with your Government’s five-day rule for entry I would suggest they quickly need a reality check.
As a lifelong visitor from my youth to Nassau, these rules are so unworkable that it is almost impossible to travel there.
In your story today, hotel officials now say that bookings are slow for their reopening but will improve by the second quarter. On what evidence can they make those statements? I would have thought they would be in the forefront in demanding easier entry for visitors.
Some comments from Bahamians on your online service blame prospective visitors for not being able to comply with the requirements. We are not to blame. Your Government made the rules. Who would purchase an air ticket and in many cases pay ahead for accommodation if you are not certain you can actually travel? Very few people indeed.
We have to travel an hour in the car to a clinic offering a COVID-19 PCR test and pay $275 for the test. We are told they will be ready in two days. Then we must fill out the Health Visa application and with the test scan it on the computer or go to a business place who will do that and not be certain when travel permission will come back. Then we must be in Nassau by the fifth day. There are now so few flights to Nassau that there is no flexibility. Most people will not take that risk.
When are your officials going to understand that this system is the greatest problem to your tourist recovery? It is one thing for Bahamian Tourism staff to sit around a desk and create travel policies. It is quite another to get visitors to comply with them. It is wrong for such officials to blame it solely on the health pandemic.
Most Americans are well and are willing to travel. They like to escape the cold winter conditions but they can travel to many other southern destinations with far fewer requirements.
The tourism sector is so important to your economy and the need for jobs vital for Bahamian families that changes must be made or you will never recover.
Our local travel agent simply cannot believe the way you are currently operating. They are unwilling to book anyone to Nassau because of the financial risk involved for clients if flights and accommodation paid ahead are lost or with heavy penalties because travel permission comes too late. What is wrong with testing people on arrival or letting them bring test results with them?
We have been dedicated visitors for over 30 years and I am writing because we feel so badly for not being able to travel and for the many kind Bahamians who have helped us over the years who are facing a dire future without employment.
All of these problems are so unnecessary if your Government officials had properly implemented rules to encourage tourism rather than destroy your main economic activity.
Shrewsbury New Jersey,
December 10, 2020.