NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) President Robert “Sandy” Sands has expressed his confidence in the destination’s ability to meet the travel requirements for all air passengers travelling/returning to the US.
Sands stated: “The new viral COVID cross-border testing protocols for travel to the US, which includes the rapid antigen test, is less of a barrier to entry for persons returning from The Bahamas, as the COVID testing and reporting infrastructure has been in place in The Bahamas for some time now, due to the fact [that] we had to ready ourselves to accommodate our own entry requirements.”
While acknowledging that there is work to be done on some of our more remote Family Islands, Sands stated: “The collaborative efforts of the private and public sector, tourism stakeholders such as the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association, partner promotion boards and associations, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Prime Minister/the competent authority, the efforts of varying participants of private and public sector-led committees, the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee (TRRC), the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19 (NCCC) [and] the Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) have set a framework for the sustained revival of our number one industry.
“This includes the ability to ensure our visitors have easy access to the requisite tests for re-entry into the United States of America, our key source market.”
Sands noted that The Bahamas’ requirement for a day-five antigen test has set the stage for the destination to ensure guests can comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) order issued on January 12, 2021 requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours in advance of departure for the US for all air passengers arriving from a foreign country, which will go into effect on January 26, 2021.
Sands further stated: “We are pleased to say, it is our firm belief The Bahamas is ahead of the curve in its efforts to fight this unforeseen and unseen foe.
“While our efforts may have impacted the immediacy of our recovery process, we recognize that steady, sure and smart is key to our ability to provide our guests [and] ourselves with a safe, pleasurable, health-conscious eco-system, where visitors and locals can enjoy Bahamian sun, sea and sand, culture and cuisine in a safe and healthy environment.
“Furthermore, we note and support those private and public-sector entities who have pivoted to respond to varying governments’ COVID mitigation efforts, which has seen border restrictions strengthened [and] internal policies implemented which could thwart some visitors’ appetite for travel.”
Baha Mar and Atlantis have embraced the testing requirements and incorporated it into their product offering.
Other resorts, including a prominent branded property with a presence on the Family Islands and New Providence, in response to the new US requirement has committed to “providing all guests staying in The Bahamas with complimentary COVID-19 testing by approved and practiced medical professionals right in the comfort of the resort”.
Some Bahamian restaurants have also moved to provide guests with onsite rapid tests, which would afford them access to dine in style while enjoying the peace of mind that they are in a safe and health-conscious environment.