The Bahamas has been recognised as a Safe Travels destination by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) after meeting its enhanced COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The designation represents a timely and much-needed boost for The Bahamas' efforts to restart its tourism industry with the elimination of the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitor arrivals on November 1.
“The return of visitor confidence to travel to revitalise the economy of The Bahamas is crucial to the well-being of our people and country and, as such, the Safe Travels Stamp will allow those travelling to regain the necessary confidence and comfort as global standards are being met on each of the islands as restrictions are gradually lifted,” said Janet Johnson, the Tourism Development Corporation's (TDC)chief executive
The TDC will be communicating with all stakeholders in The Bahamas as to the benefits and responsibilities for every tourism-related business that is given the "stamp of approval" for implementing the Safe Travels protocols, and their ongoing compliance with such.
The WTTC's protocols are designed to rebuild traveller confidence amid the ongoing pandemic, and ensure there is a co-ordinated public and private sector approach to the tourism industry's recovery.
The Bahamas' receipt of the WTTC's Safe Travels Stamp also comes amid new lockdowns and restrictions that have been imposed on both New Providence and Abaco, in a bid to cut the COVID-19 infection rate, and warnings from the US and other countries warning against non-essential travel to The Bahamas. Both are obstacles to the tourism industry's revival.
The WTTC initiative is the first-ever global safety and hygiene stamp for travel and tourism, especially designed during the COVID-19 pandemic and for other similar outbreaks. The Bahamas, through the TDC, will accrue both benefits and responsibilities as a user of the Safe Travels Stamp to maximize its positive impacts.
“It is proving a great success, demonstrating its importance not only to destinations and businesses, but also to travellers and the hundreds of millions of people around the world who work in, and depend on, the travel and tourism sector,” said Gloria Guevera, the WTTC's president and chief executive. “More than 40 countries and 10 sub-regions are already utilising the stamp as part of the relaunching strategies for their tourism industries.”
The Safe Travels protocols take World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines into account. Guidelines have also been established for airlines in conjunction with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines during COVID-19.
Guidelines and protocols for what the WTTC calls the “new normal” have been developed for every sector of hospitality and tourism, ranging from airports, cruise ports, attractions, restaurants and tours to convention centres and car rental companies etc.
“When the visitor, and also resident, sees the Safe Travels stamp at a tourism-related business anywhere in The Bahamas they will have the comfort level to feel safe and enjoy the destination and the particular experience, knowing that global standards have been met and appropriate protocols implemented," Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation.
“The TDC has been authorised to ensure that every establishment in The Bahamas wishing to display the WTTC’s Safe Travels Stamp has met the programme’s guidelines and standards prior to receiving the stamp.
“It is really gratifying to note that our implemented protocols and measures as part of the Tourism Readiness and Recovery plan, and the Sustainable Tourism Seal of Approval programme developed in conjunction with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), have met the enhanced standards of the WTTC and enabled our designation as a Safe Travels destination."