By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamian resorts yesterday backed the Government's decision to narrow the COVID-19 testing window for tourists from ten to seven days prior to travelling even though the move has caused some market confusion.
Matthew Brear, Cape Santa Maria's general manager, told Tribune Business: "I'm going to be honest with you. I think anything the Prime Minister does that helps add another layer of protection for The Bahamas is a good thing. Is it an inconvenience? Yes. Have I been dealing with some confused travellers today? Yes. But I think the underlying reason for the change is a correct one. He probably should have done that initially, but that's fine.
"A lot of people were saying that I took my COVID-19 test for this date with the thought that I would be arriving on this date, but now that's not going to work and I have to reschedule. To be honest, it is just one of those things. It's more of an inconvenience than it is a problem."
Mr Brear added: "I think anything the Prime Minister does that secures the health and safety of the communities here in The Bahamas is a positive thing, and that is coming from someone in the hospitality industry, but we won't have a hospitality industry if we don't have our local community to welcome them and look after them when they get here.
"I find on Long island we have a huge percentage of repeat, loyal customers, and their primary objective is to protect the island community here because that's why they come. They come for the beach and the sun, but they also come for the culture and the friendliness and the warmth that Bahamians provide. What the Bahamian community provides is a unique resource that we must continue to protect."
Dr Hubert Minnis, in his national address on Sunday afternoon, said: "Effective July 7, the results of the PCR COVID-19 test must have been taken no later than seven days prior to the date of arrival. Until that date, tests that have been taken no later than 10 days prior to travel will continue to be accepted. We have made the window of time for testing shorter for the protection of Bahamians and residents."
Other hoteliers also backed the Government's stance. Carlton Russell, the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association's president, said: "The BHTA supports the government in its efforts to establish and enact health and safety protocols, including border entry requirements intended to protect the health and well-being of Bahamians and residents of The Bahamas, and our visitors.
"It is important to balance the need to re-open our tourism industry, and generate much needed revenue to help rebuild our economy, with the need to do so in a safe and sustainable manner, thereby protecting our people."
Pablo Casal, the British Colonial Hilton's general manager, said: "I think that everyone's priority should be the health of our people and the visitors, so anything that the health authorities deem necessary to minimise the probabilities of a surge in cases we are happy to comply with."
Muna Issa, Breezes Bahamas' vice president for marketing, added: "We have to trust the medical professionals on this one."