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‘Vacation In Place’ - But Not Quarantine: Tourism Rebranding Mandatory Lock-Ins For Oct 15 Relaunch

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Ministry of Tourism is recommending hotels throughout the country resume full operations and use of beaches on October 15, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said Monday.

“This will allow our land-based tourism industry enough time to slowly ramp up to benefit from the traditional Thanksgiving travel period leading into the Christmas and New Year season,” he said during a press conference.

Mr D’Aguilar said he hopes there can be full re-opening of the tourism sector by early November with tourism officials eying November 1 for the reopening of tourism attractions, tours and excursions.

Mr D’Aguilar stressed the country cannot afford a repeat of the July scenario where the decision to significantly relax travel restrictions was reversed because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“That was too traumatic for the tourism sector and significantly impacted our relationship with our travel partners,” he said. “We need a period of calm, a period of certainty and a period for those in the tourism sector to methodically plan the measured reopening of their businesses.”

Mr D’Aguilar said not only will hotels need an approved quarantine facility for the reopening, but visitors will also be required to remain wherever they lodge for no more than 14 days.

They will be required to quarantine for 14 days or for the length of their stay, “whichever is shorter,” he said.

As a marketing strategy, said the ministry is avoiding the word “quarantine”.

“Because this Ministry of Tourism recognises that messaging is critical to instilling confidence both from our local population and our international tourism markets we have carefully chosen language that communicates the act of quarantining, a rather harsh word that conjures up, in the minds of the prospective travellers, something most unpleasant especially when you state that persons entering the country have to ‘quarantine for 14 days’ and some may have to do that in a government mandated facility,” he said. “Not very tourism friendly. Therefore, I have instructed the Ministry of Tourism to stop using that word quarantine and start promoting to the visiting public the full VIP experience. VIP – vacation in place.”

Mr D’Aguilar said because hotel visitors have to be tested before arriving in the country, staff should be tested as well.

“As such, after consultation with public health, the competent authority and the hotel industry, the Ministry of Tourism is strongly recommending/actively encouraging that all hotel staff be tested prior to their resuming work and, on as-needed basis, thereafter,” he said, adding: “I recognise that testing all of a hotel’s staff, using the PCR test, can be extremely costly, over $200 per person, so public health officials see no problem with hotel properties and any other businesses for that matter using, if they wish, far less expensive CDC approved tests that have proven accuracy levels that are in striking range of the PCR gold standard test. These tests will be used for primary screening and the PCR test will be used for secondary screening, if the need arises.”

Mr D’Aguilar said results from less expensive tests will not be reflected in the country’s official COVID-19 statistics.

As for the country’s readiness to handle an influx of guests, Mr D’Aguilar said over 15,000 people have already been trained in the Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan which includes strict health protocols and sanitation standards.

He reiterated requirements for visitors entering the country, which includes having an RT-PCR test that is no older than five days.

“Once you upload your test, a newly formed Travel Compliance Unit in the Ministry of Tourism will review the test to make sure it is negative, within the required time period and from an accredited lab. If all is in order, your travel visa is approved via email,” he said.

“Despite some initial hiccups, this system is working well, probably because visitor levels are extremely light. Once visitor arrivals start to ramp back up, however, we will need added features to speed up processing time to ensure travellers are not inconvenienced by long wait times for a travel health visa so we are actively looking at private sector solutions to allow for an almost instantaneous approval using AI, artificial intelligence. This situation is very fluid but we are actively seeking to get ahead of it.”

Comments

proudloudandfnm 7 months ago

He should have waited. When Nassau explodes to 2 - 300 cases a day in the next week or two he's gonna look like an idiot. Again...

Appears this FNM just cannot learn....

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Clamshell 7 months ago

So ... tourists will still have to quarantine? But instead of a “quarantine,” we’re gonna tell them it’s a “VIP experience,” short for “vacation in place”? Oh, good lord.

I guess one man’s “lying” is another man’s “creative messaging.” Good luck finding tourists dumb enough to fall for that.

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Porcupine 7 months ago

Love it Clamshell. Oh, but they're out there.

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mrsmith 7 months ago

Retarded. Backwards as ever. So stop using the word quarantine and the meaning will disappear? I have an idea. Let’s say that Bahamians will also be vacationing in place. What utter foolishness.

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mrsmith 7 months ago

AND Americans in particular love to sue. They will deliberately infect themselves and then say the hotel or hotel staff gave it to them. Hope y’all ready for all those lawsuits. Or maybe you could issue a disclaimer or make them sign a waiver with every reservation that says they can’t sue you if they fall ill. Set. Lemme stop giving these idiots answers to their idiotic, self-imposed problems.

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Clamshell 7 months ago

That’s utterly ridiculous ... nearly as dumb as the minister’s “VIP” idea. If that were true, Americans would not need Covid — they could simply come here, “fall down the stairs” and sue. Grow up.

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mrsmith 7 months ago

Yes. Exactly. And they do it all the time. Ask the hotel claims officers. I see you waving your star spangled banner. Wink.

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Clamshell 7 months ago

I see you waving your two-digit IQ: Nobody can prove where they were exposed to Covid, so any such lawsuit — and the lawyer who filed it — would be tossed out the courthouse door into the street. You really think an American could win such a lawsuit in a Bahamian court? LMAO.

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DWW 7 months ago

well, 1 just won $9M in a US court enforced by bahamas court

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happyfly 7 months ago

Mrs Smith for Minister of Tourism. I say let's tell all of these horrible Americans to just stay home and mail us all of their vacation money so that we can buy food and pay for electricity...wink

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SP 7 months ago

Best idea since voting PLP & FNM!

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rodentos 7 months ago

what could ever go wrong

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whogothere 7 months ago

Does he think people are stupid? Just because you change the name doesn’t t make it any less appealing for the tourism market. If you re advocating testing staff then just test visitors for goodness sakes...3-5 days after entry and call it a day.

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tribanon 7 months ago

This bonafide deceitful idiot thinks we are all as stupid as he is.

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lovingbahamas 7 months ago

Getting a Covid test with 2-3 days for results, then applying for a health visa which could take another 2-3 days-so now we are up to 4-6 days which means you really can’t make it by boat with a 5 day old test. Let alone have time to book a commercial airline ticket-or hardly enough time to go by private airplane. Then quarantine! Good luck with all that! Bye bye tourists-and supposedly they only accounted for 1% of new Covid.

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MIKRULA2001 7 months ago

Thank you! I thought I may be the only one who knows how to add. This doesn't make any sense and makes it practically impossible .. even by plane. This is the 3rd time trying to go to Exuma and the tests where I am take forever to get. Now, needing a test at 5 days (before being 7 and 10) within coming it's even worse because the time frame for results are a minimum of 3 days and then another possible 3 days for the visa. It's ridiculous!

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Weezie 7 months ago

Did he not mention that the Travel Health Visa will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to speed up the approval process. I applied for the Visa the other day and it took under 6 hours to get approved.

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Porcupine 7 months ago

There is an answer. From day one, had we been working on securing a rapid test, we could have demanded that all people coming to The Bahamas be tested upon entering this country. If they are positive, they go home. If they test negative, have fun and no quarantine, I mean Vacation in Place. The lag time in testing, to receiving the results to then be entering our country is a failure of efficacy, a failure to protect our people, and a failure of intelligent reasoning. Yes, perhaps it is a bit more costly. Is it more costly than the paperwork presently in place? More costly than the loss of our entire economy? More costly than the ridiculous advertising campaign now proposed by our tourism boss? More costly? No! Test people when they come to our shores. No exceptions.

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Weezie 7 months ago

Most countries do not test on arrival. They test 3, 5, 7, 10 days before arrival. Why? If a visitor is tested on arrival and they test positive, you cannot knowingly put a COVID positive person back on the plane and send them back. Airlines won't allow it! So, then you have to pay for a quarantine center and then put that visitor in your quarantine center at your own expense. You want to test before they come so that if they test positive, they don't come!

And remember, testing is not a solution all by itself. It has to be used with quarantine. You could get infected Day one, get tested on Day Two and you will still test negative. You only test positive once the virus build up to a sufficient level in your body. That is why they insist that you quarantine for 14 days when you reach.

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happyfly 7 months ago

what these dolt politicians don't ever do is actually think this stuff through. They have a brain fart or notice what some other idiot politician is trying in another country and pat themselves on the back for being so clever. So what happens if 5,00o tourists pile into Bahamar and 10% of them decide they are not going to stay cooped up on the property for two weeks. Are we going to end up like Australia with angry cops wrestling them to the ground and arresting them while being recorded on Facebook. Oh better yet. Lets put 10-0 high barbed wire fences around the hotel with machine-gun posts. Perhaps Stuart Cove could bring a bunch of sharks around to Cable Beach to attack anyone that tries to swim off the property. At some point in history, all of you human beings living in fear are going to have to decide whether you want to stay locked down without an economy forever, or whether you are going to wake up to the fact that you need to get on with your life because this virus is never going to be 100% gone. Sorry but all these politicians are doing is yanking your chain in the meantime

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Weezie 7 months ago

The man said the tourist don't have to come for 14 days. Tourists can come for as long as they want. Most tourists, I think, come for 4 or 5 days. Don't think they will be trying to break out after 4 to 5 days. If you go to Jamaica, yall inclusive hotels are very popular with tourists. And in this COVID time, I would think that tourist would be happy to stay on the hotel property.

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Chucky 7 months ago

So the secondary “cheaper” tests are good enough to enter the country or continue to work in a tourist job; but we won’t count the numbers of “infected “ people in our national numbers.

Sounds to me like he just let the cat out of the bag. Clearly this is a fake pandemic. Clearly this is about control. Initially locked down the country with 20 cases. Unlocked the country with in excess of 2000 cases. And now gonna plan the second reopening and not count the number of infected.

Anyone who buys into this “pandemic” needs their head checked, not a covid test.

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Weezie 7 months ago

You gatta read, man! He say.....you must take the more expensive test to come into the country (PCR test). But if any hotels want to test their staff, they can use cheaper, marginally less accurate tests. These cheaper tests are much much better than doing nothing and won't bankrupt the hotel in the meantime. And if these cheaper tests produce a positive, then the hotel can get the staff member to do the more expensive test to see if they are really positive. But the Ministry of Health won't use the results of the cheaper tests in their reporting because they only use the PCR test.

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proudloudandfnm 7 months ago

Doubtful the major hotels will open up next month. They have to protect themselves. They won't open until they know its safe to.

This FNM government really is just horrible...

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Weezie 7 months ago

I hope they open. We need the visitors to come because they are the largest source of our foreign exchange and tax receipts! And we need both to survive!

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proudloudandfnm 7 months ago

We need a realistic plan to deal with life with little to no tourism for the next year or two. This is just a pipe dream...

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trueBahamian 7 months ago

Once again he shows that he is a complete idiot. You're asking people to come on vacation and stay at the hotel for 14 days. Keep in mind everywhere that you can stay isn't near a beach and may not have anything on property such as a restuarant. You also have Airbnb going as well. Is he completely stupid?

Where do we find these people? You pay thousands of dollars (assuming you're going to one of the major properties) to go to the beach, hang around the pool, get a few drinks and then go back home. Right! Most vacations are going to be less than 14 days, so why travel to.be locked up at a hotel or an Airbnb home?

Also, he's mentioning how tourism is prepared for this re-opening. I'm not sure if they are prepared, but one thing that's clearly missing is whether the Ministry of Health is.prepared. How much of a morom can he be that for a health crisis, he doesn't think to assess or ask the Ministry of Health to assess their capacity to handle a reopening. Please just fire this dumbass and move on.

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Weezie 7 months ago

People do NOT have to come for 14 days. They can come for less than 14 days but in that case they have to quarantine for their entire stay. And yes, Airbnb will be less attractive that a hotel which is on the beach and has more amenities. So, I guess more visitors will want to go to a hotel or pick an Airbnb which is on the beach and has a pool.

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lovingbahamas 7 months ago

By the way, would someone please tell me how Vacation in Place is going to help the local economy? You can’t leave the hotel to go to a local restaurant or bar or straw market. The only people that might be ok with this is Atlantis and Bahamar! Now they have their tourists locked down forced to spend megabucks for a meal instead of supporting the locals! It is difficult for me to believe our elected officials are this dumb. Just think, if they would have spent the money on instant testing from the start everything would be normal!

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tribanon 7 months ago

This is a charade by the bobbsey buffoons, Minnis and D'Aguilar, who think they can dupe both Bahamians and potential tourists alike into thinking tourist-related travel by plane or ship, and vacation stays in the Bahamas, will not contribute to a greatly increased risk of becoming infected by the Communist China Virus. Minnis and D'Aguilar must believe most Bahamians and North Americans are as dumb and stupid as they are.

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Weezie 7 months ago

Health officials have said over and over again that they have not been able to trace any positive COVID cases to tourists coming in the country. All the positive cases were because Bahamians went to the US and when they came home, they did not quarantine and went all through the community infecting their friends and family and co workers.

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Weezie 7 months ago

Until you get rid of quarantine, which most countries have, hard to figure out how tourists are going to spread their spending around in local businesses. And do you want possibly infected tourists wandering around in your communities? Let them stay in their hotels for the time being. You really asking for another surge!

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avidreader 7 months ago

All over the world governments are trying to find a way out of the situation in which they placed their respective populations as a result of their mindless rush to fall in line with a mass psychosis. Notice carefully how the so called rules, regulations and plans for recovery change almost overnight. The politicians know that the damage has been done. They are seeking desperately for a way out of the disaster.

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The_Oracle 7 months ago

Just did a covid antibody test this morning. Looked like a pregnancy test, a finger prick, results in 10 min. $40. So they should have a place in the big picture. Yes, Covid can kill, seriously debilitate, complications, Yes our healthcare system is woefully i'll equipped, But Government has done more Damage than covid. Economically, mental health wise, constant Jerrymandering with the minutiae of rules stipulations and retractions.

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Weezie 7 months ago

Speak to any public health official. Antibody tests are a waste of time and money.

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Wisdom4 7 months ago

There are many other islands besides the Bahamas with less tourist restrictions. Why would you want like to visit the Bahamas upon getting health visa; plus 14 days quarantine in hotel etc. This is not a wise business strategy. Who taught about this?

The Bahamas Tourist Industry will completely fail, and revenue would not be good on the working-class Bahamians. Hotel industry will also suffer great lost as well.

The message is in the bottle; Yes! We welcome Tourist to the islands, but with harsh restrictions. What type of vacation will that be?

Wearing a mask and following health guidelines is the only solution.

Why would you like to come to the Bahamas on a vacation with all these restrictions? Tourist will take their money go some where else.

Tourism is major part of Bahamas economy it brings in majority of revenue. Once again, people who work in the hotel industry, taxi service, airport, straw market and more needs tourist to enter the Bahamas.

Rethink! This bad solution. Failure waiting to happen.

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Weezie 7 months ago

First of all, you don't have to come for 14 days. You can come for less days but then, you just have to quarantine for your entire stay.

Second, you say that all the tourists have to do is wear a mask and follow the health guidelines. So what do returning residents do? The same thing?

You cannot be saying that the tourists only have to wear a mask but returning Bahamians have to test and quarantine. There must be one rule for all. And, if you don't test and quarantine returning residents, you will have another even bigger outbreak. Been there, done that!

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DWW 7 months ago

Would you agree that Covid19 has revealed an uncomfortable truth about government-people relationship? The way I see it, this has clearly made visible the patriarchal nature of the Bahamas. We are all clearly supportive of the idea that no one, not a single person is responsible for themselves or their actions. Businesses cannot be trusted to act in accordance with their own best interest. Surely a hotel owner or retail business owner doesn't want to risk all of the staff getting sick and the financial strain it would put on the business? Surely parents and grandparents are not to be trusted to safeguard themselves and their families from contracting the virus. Without a doubt the only course of action is Big Brother telling the people where to stand, when to shop, when and how you can travel. The People are clearly not to be trusted to have any freedoms at all. Surely if i get infected or a loved one gets infected and risks death - it is not any fault of mine but the government for allowing this untenable situation to unfold. I say yes, please take away my liberty, please ensure that I must remain in my home and never venture out for surely I may risk dying this very day. Thank you Government the Bahamas for ensuring that I stay busy dying and not busy living. Thank you.

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