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A Step in The Right Direction

Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) President Robert “Sandy” Sands hailed the government’s decision to remove the five-day test requirement for visitors already in The Bahamas as a firm “step in the right direction” to removing restrictions that could turn off potential visitors to the country.

Sands said in a statement that the government’s decision lines up with the decreasing numbers of COVID-19 infections being recorded in The Bahamas.

The BHTA and its members have continually called for the government to reduce or remove what they see as barriers to travel as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

“This is absolutely another firm step in the right direction, particularly at this critical juncture in the recovery of our tourism industry,” said Sands.

“The government’s decision is aligned with the private sector, as removing impediments to travel amidst what is largely perceived as a waning pandemic, is critical to our ability to recapture market share as a leading tourism destination.

“We thank the government for their continued open line of communication, it is no easy task balancing the health and safety of our Bahamian citizenry, residents and visitors while facilitating the sustained rebound of our country’s number one industry.

“We appreciate the opportunity to be a conduit of information and insight, representing private sector tourism stakeholders throughout the archipelago.”

During a recent BHTA annual general meeting, Baha Mar President Graeme Davis called on the government to work with US officials to get this country’s US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 rating lowered from a level four to a level two, given the decreasing infections, explaining that the hotel is experiencing group cancellations.

Davis explained last year that the country’s CDC country rating, which currently warns people to avoid travel to The Bahamas, has a big downside effect on group bookings.

He also called on the government to remove the mask mandate for fully vaccinated hotel guests, further reduce the testing time frame for visitors coming into the country and soften testing protocols for staff and guests.

Davis said the hotel has spent $6 million on testing for staff and guests to date, administering some 450,000 tests.