UNPLEASANT INCENTIVE: New US travel policy could push Bahamians to get vaxxed, says BHTA chief

UNPLEASANT INCENTIVE: New US travel policy could push Bahamians to get vaxxed, says BHTA chief
(FILE PHOTO)

Sands: This could augur well for the health of the country and allow various businesses to open methodically

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association’s (BHTA) President Robert “Sandy” Sands said yesterday that the Biden administration’s decision to require that all visitors to the United States be fully vaccinated may serve as an incentive that helps boost this nation’s vaccination rate, given the propensity for many Bahamians to travel to South Florida in particular.

The Biden administration yesterday announced that all foreign travelers flying to the United States will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of the flight.

Robert “Sandy” Sands.

Sands told Eyewitness News: “I think this will create an incentive for Bahamians to become vaccinated as the US will only accept fully vaccinated individuals.

“We are aware that 85 percent of the tourists who come here are fully vaccinated and we know that all cruise passengers are fully vaccinated. This could augur well for the health of the country and allow various businesses to open methodically.

“We need the level of vaccination rates among Bahamians to increase.”

According to data gleaned from the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee’s dashboards on vaccination, the pace of vaccinations in The Bahamas appears to have slowed. Vaccine hesitancy has remained prevalent in some quarters of society.

Sands continued: “I am encouraged that Bahamians may, as a result, if they wish to travel to the United States, decide to get vaccinated. It’s not the only incentive but it certainly may prove an incentive for some.

“If we are able to boost are vaccination numbers, the US may look favorably on The Bahamas and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may consider their travel advisory, which currently has us listed at Level 4.”

The CDC in August added The Bahamas to its “Do Not Travel” list, citing the “very high level of COVID-19 in the country”.

The US Department of State, which closely reflects the CDC, revised its travel advisory for The Bahamas from “Level 3: Exercise increased caution” to “Level 4: Do not travel”.

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