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Health Visa Limits A ‘Terrible Decision’

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

A Bahamian excursion operator yesterday said it was a “terrible decision” to limit tourist travel applications to within 14 days of arrival so as to prevent a health visa overload.

Iola Knowles, director of Sandytoes Excursion, hit out after Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister for tourism and aviation, revealed that the surge in travel demand sparked by The Bahamas’ May 1 elimination of mandatory COVID-19 tests for fully vaccinated visitors was “overwhelming” the website that approves health visa applications.

Applications have more than doubled from 2,000 per day to more than 5,000 per day since that date, and Mr D’Aguilar said the Government had been forced to impose a ‘within 14 days of travel’ restriction to reduce the volume of submissions by visitors seeking to obtain approvals for visits months in advance.

Ms Knowles said: “I think, if anything, they need to beef up the system to help travel and visitors so that they can accommodate more applications, because otherwise it’s just going to bottleneck.

“A lot of the tour operators are still suffering. They could use more business, and if they’re going to bottleneck for a 14-day window I don’t think that that’s a wise fit. I think if anything they should focus their efforts on beefing up the travel visa system so they can accommodate more applications.”

Mr D’Aguilar yesterday said his ministry is adding more personnel to enable them to process applications more efficiently. However, Wesley Ferguson, president of the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union (BTCU), said: “I guess once they get the message out properly, people who intend to travel to The Bahamas will have to make earlier arrangements.

“But I can tell you the amount of technology that is available, we have to be able to upgrade the system. I don’t see D’Aguilar (minster of tourism and aviation) implementing something only just last month and it is already antiquated.”

Mr Ferguson, backing Mr D’Aguilar’s call to “put all hands on deck”, added: “If the government is serious about this industry being revamped and organised in the COVID-19 environment, they will have to put the resources in place and the necessary technology to accommodate the influx of tourists.”

Nicholas Pinder, general manager of Born Free Fishing Charters, said the health travel visa woes will likely cause a problem for tour operators and the Government needs to sort the matter out rapidly. “They will just have to figure a way through it,” he said.

Comments

WETHEPEOPLE 8 months, 1 week ago

Talk about lack of preparation.

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JokeyJack 8 months, 1 week ago

Sounds like a Russian cyber attack - there is NO WAY that 5000 people are applying for permission to visit the Bahamas at this time. Don't make me laugh.

But then, I just had to laugh when I read the name of the fishing place...."Born Free Fishing Charters" - that's even funnier that people who are applying for PERMISSION to travel would go to a place called Born Free. Unless I guess we all accept now that maybe we were born free, but now we are tagged animals. That's funny and not funny at the same time.

Maybe I will open up a charter business and call it "Filthy Disease Spreader Fishing Charters" in order to be more hip with the times.

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DWW 8 months, 1 week ago

every flight to the bahamas is booked solid, crawl out from that rock. read up on where the word Eleuthera comes from. Jokes on you there mate.

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JokeyJack 8 months, 1 week ago

Rubbish. I suggest you go to Expedia.com and search for tomorrow FLL to NAS. LOTS of flights available all day long. Direct flights starting at $272. Delta, Bahamasair, American, and Jet Blue.
Besides that obvious "fact check", please be aware that all of this noise in the market with the shut down gas pipeline and everything else is just a smokescreen to take your attention off of the big problem - which is forced vaccinations. Pay attention and you will see they will pull every trick in the book. Get ready for explosions, plane crashes, fires, mass shootings, anything that makes news so that people lose focus on the forced vaccinations.

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