D’Aguilar: The vaccine is the great hope
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While the latest travel restriction by Canada is expected to impact the country’s tourism, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that that effect was already being felt.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the country will suspend airline service to Mexico and all Caribbean destinations until April 30.
The announcement is part of stricter travel restrictions to be implemented amidst the spread of new, possibly more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus identified across the globe.
Trudeau also announced a new requirement for travelers to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense when they arrive in Canada.
Speaking to Eyewitness News on the latest efforts by international governments to protect their countries from travel-related spreads, D’Aguilar said the pandemic has to run its course until vaccinations are widely available.
“I don’t quite understand why, because certainly the English-speaking Caribbean, we have very small populations, we have very low levels of COVID and therefore we present very little risks to the developed countries of the world. But they have to do what they have to do.”
The tourism minister noted that Canada has already had travel restrictions in place that have impacted travel to The Bahamas.
“There have been far fewer travelers from and to Canada from The Bahamas, so that effect is already being felt. I guess they are just taking it one step further.”
He admitted that while some tourism from the country is better than none, while the pandemic continues, there will be uncertainties and twists and turns.
“Countries go through good cycles and bad cycles, and unfortunately a lot of the markets from which our foreign visitors originate are going through a bad cycle right now and it is significantly impacting travel to and from those countries,” he continued.
“What is incredibly apparent is this pandemic has a course to run and until the vaccine begins to get traction and more and more people get vaccinated, we are in for a bumpy ride.
“We are in for periods of uncertainty as countries lurch to the left and lurch to the right trying to cope with this pandemic.”
D’Aguilar said the light at the end of the tunnel will be when mass vaccinations can occur.
“The vaccine is the great hope. Certainly, as the year goes on and it becomes more available and more people get vaccinated, we expect the situation to improve.”
He added: “What is clearly evident is that this COVID-19 still has a course to run and every day, seemingly, there’s a toss and a turn that is significantly impacting tourism.”
The United States has implemented new measures requiring international travelers to first test negative for COVID-19 before traveling into the country.
That move is also expected to significantly impact visitors coming into the country.
However, despite initial reports, D’Aguilar advised yesterday that the United States will no longer federally mandate quarantine for individuals entering the US.
He categorized the shift in policy as “a little bit of good news”.
The tourism minister said The Bahamas has been receiving relatively good reports on how it has been handling the coronavirus situation, with individuals indicating that they are minded to stay here.