EDITOR, The Tribune.
We have visited The Bahamas for fifty years and our family has owned a holiday property for a long time.
Regularly following The Tribune we keep in touch with the Bahamas news.
I was struck by the comments today of your Tourism Minister that he is encouraged by an increase in tourist numbers. The fact remains that March saw a 92% decline from the previous March. In March last year the numbers had declined rapidly because the borders were closed and flights ceased. This is a very serious situation.
The imposition of unworkable entry rules and the unnecessary Health Visa have meant many persons who would have travelled simply cannot make the journey. Over many months there have been well written and well meaning letters sent to The Tribune by part time residents, regular visitors and concerned travel agents. The Minister has failed to make any concessions, but has added further restrictions. We are seeing the results. The important tourism industry has basically collapsed.
Little thought seems to have been made to how prospective visitors could comply with the rules. Our family members have not been able to come to our property for over a year. We have had problems getting appointments for the COVID-19 PCR test because we are healthy and a low priority. We would have a 90 minute car journey to get to a place who would test us for a $250 fee but wait two to three days for results. Then sending all the forms to Nassau for the Health Visa takes time and even finding a flight these days is difficult. There are so few. We cannot get there within five days from the test. How many officials who designed these rules have ever tried to go through this time consuming process? We have a reason to come. The great majority of prospective visitors do not have the time or are unwilling to complete the process and are going elsewhere according to our travel agent.
How will The Bahamas ever recover if policies are implemented which discourage tourism rather than encourage it? If cruises do return they will be subject to even more restrictions. It is not a good business model. I felt compelled to write out of concern because our family has always held the Bahamian people in the highest regard. We only want the country to prosper.
JOHN D LANCASTER
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
April 6, 2021.