Tourism: Further streamlining of entry protocols being assessed
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tourism director general Joy Jibrilu yesterday American Airlines has decided to scrap its pre-flight COVID-19 tests on passengers to this destination.
Jibrilu said tourism and health officials are looking to see how entry protocols can be streamlined even further to allow for a better visitor experience during the Exuma Business Outlook.
“We are seeking to streamline entry protocols that will allow visitors to better enjoy the Bahamian vacation experience,” she said.
While the 14-day quarantine requirement has been scrapped, she underscored visitors will still be required to have a health visa, and a negative RT-PCR test no more than seven days prior to their travel.
According to Jibrilu, if a visitor arrives in The Bahamas and tests positive but is asymptomatic, they will be allowed to quarantine in place and a per diem will be paid.
“If the person is asymptomatic but has comorbidities, they will have the opportunity to be medevaced out of the jurisdiction and likewise if they present with symptoms.”
The health travel visa inclusive of a five-day rapid antigen test and mandatory health insurance will cost $55 for visitors staying up to four nights and five days, with the same cost for citizens and returning residents.
For visitors staying more than four nights and five days, the cost will be $80.
The visa is free for children tens years old and under, although they will still be covered by the travel health insurance.
In late September, American Airline announced that it was introducing pre-flight COVID-19 tests on passengers to The Bahamas.
The airline said at the time that the move was part of an ongoing effort to help protect customer health and safety, inspire confidence in air travel, and advance the industry’s recovery from the (COVID-19) pandemic.
Jibrilu revealed yesterday that the airline had recently told tourism officials that it had to abandon the decision.
“We were so very excited when American Airlines made the announcement for rapid antigen testing,” she said.
“Last week in trying to marry the details and the travel health visa they shared the news that they could never have imagined the complexity of putting such a system in place.”
According to Jibrilu, the airline determined that implementing the test pre-flight was cost-prohibitive and not something they could logistically manage at this time.
Still, Jibrilu said that discussions were being held by the likes of the UN World Tourism Organization and The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on a similar proposal.