By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A senior Ministry of Tourism official yesterday suggested introducing trip interruption insurance to give Bahamians and residents confidence they will not suffer financial loss if impacted by COVID issues.
Kerry Fountain, the Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board’s (BOIPB) executive director, in an e-mailed response to Tribune Business questions hailed the possibility of removing COVID-19 testing requirements for locals travelling inter-island, saying: “The board welcomes this news and applauds The Bahamas government for making this decision.
“To be clear, though, while we think this will definitely result – given the pent-up demand for travel – in much-needed business for our hotel members, particularly our small “Mom and Pop” Bahamian-owned hotels, domestic airline partners and tour vendor/activity partners alike, we view the whole vaccination issue first and foremost as a public health issue.
“While we know that we cannot legally mandate that Bahamians/residents must be vaccinated, we believe if there are no legitimate health or religious reasons that preclude one from receiving the vaccine, we strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated as it is scientifically proven to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, prevent hospitalisations and prevent unneeded deaths.”
Mr Fountain added that the removal of COVID-19 PCR testing requirements for fully vaccinated Bahamians should occur “ASAP, ie, as soon as Bahamians/residents receive their second shot/dose, followed by a two-week immunisation period, which is consistent with what is required of all inbound international travellers/visitors.
“Food for thought, too. Perhaps Bahamians/residents should also be given the option to purchase Trip Interruption Insurance at the same time they apply for the Travel Health Visa, thus financially relieving them of any unforeseen COVID-19 issues.”
Mr Fountain continued: “We have no issues with the vaccination cards themselves, but like every single country in the world these cards present us with a challenge, and that is how do we verify if the cards are legitimate or not.
“How can we, without disregarding the confidentiality of private health information, access a database of those that have been vaccinated in order to approve the Travel Health Visa? By the way, we have the same challenge with our inbound international visitors.”