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COVID entry rules hitting bookings for The Bahamas

EDITOR, The Tribune.

As the owner of travel agencies in northern New Jersey for many years we were always successful in sending clients to The Bahamas.

It was our most popular southern destination. However, all that changed with your introduction of harsh entry rules which grow even more unreasonable with each chaotic change. All the uncertainties and expense surrounding your Health Visa have all but dried up bookings to you. Your Tourism Minister promised the Visa would be abolished yet decided to keep it after assuming office!

The Minister and his Tourism officials are divorced from reality. In these COVID-19 times it is difficult enough to get clients to travel, but it is nearly impossible to secure bookings when the potential visitor must go through all sorts of time consuming and expensive measures to obtain the Visa. Your officials wave a magic wand demanding COVID tests within three days of travel. Even the easier antigen tests are hard to find here at the moment. There are not enough supplies.

There is no consideration that obtaining these tests takes valuable time from a visitor’s work and personal schedules and cannot be completed in time to travel. People simply do not have the time or will to go through all the hassles.

They cannot understand why they cannot enter

The Bahamas if they have double vaccination certificates which can be produced at airport check in counters.

As a result we are booking clients to many other southern resort countries where entry is much simpler. We have lost nearly all our Bahamas bound business. Stories about low vaccination rates and rising COVID numbers have also affected your business.

Disturbing news about COVID numbers on cruises has also resulted in cruise bookings collapsing.

There appears to be no common sense in all your Government travel rules. It is incomprehensible that when tourism is your major economic product your own officials stubbornly adhere to policies which are seriously affecting your economic future.

JOHN LANCASTER

Princeton, News Jersey,

U.S.A.

January 6, 2022.

Comments

bahamianson 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Tell me about it. I am in Texas on a course, and i spent have a day trying to find an antigen test. This took away from my course, and I had to spend $195 for an antigen test that cost $150 in Florida and $75 in South Carolina. It was compounded with stress. I have taken both shots for the Astrazeneca and a Pfizer booster. This is ridiculous. I can see.way the Bahamas is losing vacationers. We deserve it.

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Alan1 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I thoroughly agree with the letter writer. We have lost large numbers of visitors by these ill thought out policies for entry. The Tourism Ministers in both governments over the last nearly two years have listened to officials who have little idea about all the problems they have created for potential visitors. People cannot be bothered to go through all the onerous and time consuming steps to get a Health Visa. The Visa,itself, seems now to be principally for making money for the Government and their friends who operate the payment system. The current Minister says it gives them "statistics". They got that information for decades through the entry forms which visitors presented at the immigration on entry. It is not now for health reasons. Do the officials making the policies ever look at the news in the U.S.A., Canada or the U.K. where most of the visitors come from? If they did they would see that getting tests these days is very difficult and results are slow. So people cannot get them and get the Visa online and be in our country in 3 or even 5 days. Meanwhile many people have decided to go eto other countries where they are made more welcome and far simpler to entry. How sad for our Bahamaland that our main economic product is being ruined by poor policies. How will we ever recover?

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lovingbahamas 5 months, 3 weeks ago

A family of four that may want to come to the Bahamas for a 3 day weekend just added more than $1,000 to their trip or $333 per day. Fully vaccinated still need a $200 antigen test which requires hours of your time besides the money, then $40 each for Health Visa (love to know what’s going on with this money!) and then a $29 exit charge. That’s $1,076! Let’s see, cost to go to Florida Keys-0. It would be like getting free lodging going to the Keys and not have to deal with immigration, customs, etc. Think about it!

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newcitizen 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The hotels are full, out island rentals are all booked, cruise ships are back in full swing. You're not being missed.

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