The removal of the COVID-19 testing requirement to enter the US is important for The Bahamas’ tourism sector, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) President Robert Sands said in a statement, calling the testing a “friction point” for travelers.
The US announced last week that it would end the requirement for travelers entering the US to present a COVID-19 rapid antigen test. That requirement ended yesterday.
Local tourism officials have called for the Bahamian government to end its required testing policy for travelers entering The Bahamas.
Sands said in his statement that as countries continue to drop their testing requirements, The Bahamas cannot be the “last man standing” by continuing with the testing policy.
“The US, our number one source market, has now joined the ranks of countries such as Canada, once recognized as having some of the strictest border entry requirements; and a number of Caribbean, European and South American countries who no longer require fully-vaccinated visitors to test to enter their jurisdiction,” said Sands.
“This recent move by the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an indisputably clear indication that testing requirements are falling away on a global scale.
“The Bahamas cannot be the last man standing in this regard. Therefore we strongly urge our government to make a swift and decisive move to eradicate our own testing requirements for Bahamians and visitors wanting to enter The Bahamas.
“Not only will this achieve bilateral parity with our US counterparts, this will immediately put us in line with regional competitors such as Jamaica, Aruba, Bonaire, St. Lucia, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, Grenada, Mexico, et cetera, who have already removed the majority of testing requirements to enter their respective tourism destinations.”
Sands said in his statement that the removal of the testing requirement by the US is of “paramount” importance to The Bahamas’ tourism sector, given that it will remove a point of frustration for visitors to The Bahamas who have to test before leaving the country.
He said, however, that hotel properties in The Bahamas had made it easy for visitors to acquire a rapid antigen test while the requirement was in place.
“While The Bahamas was well-positioned to accommodate the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) requirement to test to enter the US, given the myriad of testing sites on and off hotel properties throughout the archipelago, the fact the CDC has determined testing to enter/re-enter the US is no longer needed is of paramount importance to our tourism sector,” Sands said.
“This effectively eradicates a significant friction point for travelers returning or traveling to or through the United States.”
By Chester Roberts, Nassau Guardian