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Greed And Double Dipping

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Last week, my friends came to visit me from the USA for a week of fun in The Bahamas.

They took their COVID tests before traveling here at $120 each ($360), they filled in their travel visas and paid the Government $60 each ($180).

They were here for five days and left on the sixth day.

As they left very early on a Monday, we had them take their antigen tests on Friday, so that it was completed and so they could use it to return to the USA.

Sadly though, both medical testing sites in Grand Bahama, would not give my guests a copy of their antigen test. They said they would have to pay $50 for rapid tests and results ($150).

I thought this was not right and called the COVID-19 Tourism hotline, I was on hold for an hour and a bit, but finally got a nice young man who said that the medical centres should charge them $20 for a print out of the test, and confirmed it was the same test Americans need to go home.

I was fine with the $20, called both places again and told them what the hotline attendant said. Both said they had not been told that, and promised to call and check with Tourism.

When I called back the next day they both said that they had nothing in writing and my guests would have to pay $50 each for the testing – even though they knew they had paid $60 for the Tourism Visa test.

Oh, and they would not print the test out for them either. (For those of you thinking they could use the email Tourism sends you, nope you can’t – as it just says you are negative, it has to show testing results)

What made it even worse for me, was that when I took my friends to take the tests the lab we chose actually only gave them one test.

Even though they scanned in the Travel Visa forms’ QR codes, that means Tourism will pay them for the test, and charged them $50 each for the emailed test results. So, they blatantly double-dipped on testing procedures. The worst part was, they did not care, and said: Sorry, nothing we can do.

Though our country relies on tourism as 85% of our nation’s income, these medical centres were fine with making guests visiting our country pay more money – total COVID-19 expenses were $690, on top of flights. Which also meant that there was less money that these tourists might have spent on a tour, a dinner, or on souvenirs.

I have reached out to Tourism, Ministers, and tagged a Facebook post to both offices of the Prime Minister and still no response or change to this situation here. If we are to get our tourism numbers to come back, we cannot rip off those wishing to visit our shores. This double-dipping makes it twice as expensive to get here – especially in Freeport it seems!

SARAH KIRKBY

Nassau,

February 25, 2021.

Comments

truetruebahamian 1 month, 2 weeks ago

It is once again proven that everything was better under the U.B.P.!

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birdiestrachan 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Travel Visa is just another means of blocking travel. But it is the peoples time for sure.

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Alan1 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The observations and comments from the letter writer are quite correct. I cannot understand why more Bahamians have not been speaking out against these expensive and unworkable entry requirements. They are destroying our tourist trade which is the mainstay of our economy. Most prospective visitors simply do not have the will,time or financial ability to go through all the hassles needed to enter our country. The tests themselves are expensive if even a health centre is near to their residence who will administer the test. Officials who keep telling us that the tourism sector will soon rebound are living in a fantasy land. There are too many other southern destinations to travel who are a lot less restrictive. Bringing a test would be far easier than forcing people to fill in forms on computers and just hope permission is given to travel within the tight five day from the test arrival time. It does not appear that much ,if any, market research was done by our Tourism bosses before these draconian measures were introduced. As a result we continue to have high unemployment and little if any idea when things will improve.

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FrustratedBusinessman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Don't worry, Bahamian politicians are rapidly trying to think up a way that they can triple or quadruple dip as well.

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