NASSAU, BAHAMAS — With the COVID-19 pandemic having a devastating impact on global tourism, the best this nation can expect is 2.2 million visitor arrivals this year, according to Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar.
D’Aguilar said this represents a “staggering” 70 percent decrease over the record 7.2 million visitors last year.
He was speaking at a press conference on Saturday regarding the November 1 reopening of the country’s tourism sector and related travel protocols.
“The latest data from the World Travel Tourism Organization shows international tourism down a whopping 70 percent,” he said.
“If we used to get 7.2 million visitors as we did in 2019, the best we can expect right now is 2.2 million tourists. That is a reduction of a staggering five million tourists, assuming we all do our part to prevent and diminish the spread of this virus by social distancing, wearing and masks, and not congregating in groups both large and small.”
D’Aguilar announced on Saturday that persons traveling to The Bahamas will no longer be required to take a rapid antigen test upon arrival.
He also noted that The Bahamas will be removing the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
D’Aguilar said visitors will still be required to obtain a health visa and a negative RT-PCR test (no older than five days) to qualify for entry.
There will be no requirement to enroll in Hubbcat monitoring app.
He also noted that as of November 14, all visitors will be required to purchase health insurance.
For residents and visitors staying up to four nights and five days, the fee is $40; for visitors staying more than four nights, the fee is $60; and for children aged 10 and under, there is no cost.
According to D’Aguilar, the cost of health insurance and the required rapid antigen test on the fifth day will be automatically included in the cost of the health visa.
He said this is to ensure that any visitor who may test positive while on vacation or become ill does not become a burden on the already overwhelmed health care system.
“This insurance is not intended for Bahamians as they will be returning home and we expect them to avail themselves of our local healthcare providers and our local medical facilities in the usual manner,” said the tourism minister.
“I am pleased to say that no visitor who tests positive will become a strain on our healthcare system.”
CG Atlantic, formerly Atlantic Medical, has been contracted to fulfill the health insurance requirement.
D’Aguilar explained that visitors who test positive while in the country will be allowed to quarantine for up to 14 days if asymptomatic; or, for those with pre-existing conditions or symptoms, get medically evacuated.