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Salvage what tourism is available

EDITOR, The Tribune

I am the owner of travel agencies in the Rochester and Syracuse area of New York State. Our family are also winter residents of The Bahamas.

Over the past month you have featured stories with tourism officials in Nassau all painting a rosy picture of a rebound in tourism. Quite frankly the government officials have done their best in the past year and a half to discourage tourist arrivals by insisting on cumbersome and expensive Health Visas which have depressed bookings. Even the new Government changed its mind and is keeping them. We have now very few bookings for your country in my agencies which is quite disturbing considering it was such a popular destination in the past. People cannot be bothered going through all the hassles for entry when we can and are booking them to nearly all other southern destinations without all your requirements.

Another disturbing trend has been your emphasis on cruises. They do not really provide much revenue for The Bahamas compared to hotel stays. Developing the out islands for responsible tourism would be more effective. Currently we are having a difficult time convincing anyone to go on a cruise. Most people if they are going to travel want to stay on land.

Your vaccination rate in the population remains low and this is also hindering people from booking. Travel warnings and advisories against travelling to The Bahamas in the U.S.A.,Canada and the U.K. are not helping the situation.

You need to salvage what tourism is available. The first process in this regard would be to abolish the Health Visa and allow entry with a vaccination certificate at airline check in counters and a return to the easy rules of the past which were successful.

For your economy’s sake and jobs for Bahamian workers I hope the mindset of Government officials changes immediately.

RICHARD J HANSON

275 Sagamore Drive

Rochester,

New York 14617

U.S.A.

November 4, 2021.

Comments

Alan1 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I completely agree with this letter writer. The PLP promised to abolish the Health Visa as one of their primary election promises. Now they are in office they are not getting rid of this cumbersome and anti-tourist Visa. We are losing business to all the other destinations in our region because they have a more realistic and tourist friendly policy. There is no clear need for the Visa. If passengers show a fully vaccinated health certificate then they should be given a boarding pass and be on their way to our country. The weak excuse of the new Minister that the Visa gives us "information" is not credible. The previous normal landing card had passengers fill in all the relevant information about them and where they were from . That was sufficient to garner information. The Visa is taking much needed business away from us. Where is the hotel workers' union officials and business owners suffering from lack of business in not complaining. They have the most to lose by these harsh rules.

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Maximilianotto 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Realty is hotels are empty BahaMar has 20% occupancy and at heavily discounted room rates - all announcements of Joy Jibrilu are sugarcoating and employees will be furloughed forever. The Health Visa is another nail in the coffin.

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juju 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The Health Visa IS a nightmare…. And then the follow up e mails, etc etc… As a tourist it is so much easier to visit other countries that are more welcoming. Vaccinate more Bahamians.

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joe 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The Health visa must be removed immediately in order to save the winter tourism season! As with all other countries lately, proof of vaccination and negative COVID test is more than sufficient! The Bahamas is bankrupt! We need tourists and tourists dollars to energize the economy! The Health visa is a barrier to much needed tourism! Once removed then focus must be on rebuilding Grand Bahamas airport ASAP! we cannot begin to think tourism will magically return without airplanes bringing them and currently there is no airport worthy to receive them!

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ConcernedTraveler 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I guess no one travels to other countries... Every country has some sort of regulation, lengthy paperwork, testing requirements, etc. etc... The Bahamas has taken on the extra task to offer our visitors travel health insurance at a minimal cost that covers Covid and med-evac. BRAVO!

I recently travelled to another Caribbean country where not only as a vaccinated person did I have to take a PCR test within 72hours, submit lengthy paperwork and sign various documents agreeing to their lockdown and Covid protocols... Solicit the response to my paperwork as it never arrived up to a few hours before my departure! BUT on arrival you have to go through a health screening and paperwork check - as if you never submitted it to anyone... all in a hot tent with little ventilation and no social distancing - my tenure in that tent was over an hour... Is that healthy? And all that before Immigration and Customs.

Compare it to arrivals into the Bahamas - show your health visa to the immigration officer - you're done! And replying to 5 health related emails (one per day) is not going to kill anyone who is glued to their device anyway.

We all need to get on with the reality that to travel this is going to be the norm for years to come. Stop complaining and work on reducing the spread.

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