EDITOR, The Tribune.
I AM writing to express the frustration of my wife and myself about the increasingly difficult and time consuming requirements to enter The Bahamas. We have spent long periods of time in Nassau during the winter months for many years. We enjoy the warm weather and escape the harsh cold and snow in this eastern part of Canada. Whether we will be able to have this annual trip is becoming a major problem as your Minister of Tourism keeps introducing further complications.
In most parts of Canada it is difficult to obtain COVID-19 tests for healthy persons just for leisure travel. The government health clinics who are the sole administrators of medicine are overwhelmed with sick patients. Appointments are hard to obtain which gives the whole travel process an uncertainty because your government is demanding test results no more than seven days old and we have to be on the ground in Nassau by the seventh day with a Health Visa. Obtaining the health visa is the major problem. The timings to get test results and the scanning back from Nassau of the travel authorisation are uncertain. The Air Canada schedule has been so cut back that there is little flexibility for travel dates.
We now learn that, despite getting the required test, we must take a test at the airport on arrival and, unbelievingly, yet another four days later both at our expense with no idea given as to costs.
Now your Minister of Tourism is trying to get travel health insurance included in the new Health Visa. However nearly all visitors have travel health insurance purchased when getting their air ticket. Air Canada is already providing free health insurance with the tickets for up to three weeks. Like many senior citizens we have an Annual Travel Health Insurance plan. We would not require your insurance but your Minister has said that it will be included in the Health Visa charge. We will be forced to pay twice so the travel costs keep mounting.
We keep reading in your newspaper ongoing comments by the Tourism Ministry about consultations with “travel partners” and rosy predictions about “pent-up demand” for tourism to The Bahamas. However the truth is that you have gone from an easy country to enter to one of the most difficult. For the sake of your economy how much longer can these unworkable measures continue?
It is so cumbersome that even stalwart visitors to Nassau such as our family are worried that we will not be able to come this winter unless things change quickly. Other less committed prospective visitors will travel to other Caribbean destinations where the entry is easier and the welcome mat sensibly thought out. It is a very regrettable situation. We hope change comes soon.
CHRISTOPHER J SEWARD QC
October 6, 2020.