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The Bahamas’ road to tourism recovery

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation is preparing for Phase 2 of the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan, which will begin tomorrow and will allow for the resumption of international travel to The Bahamas. Policies and procedures for all travellers visiting The Bahamas beginning 1st July are as follows. Plans continue to evolve in response to COVID-19 trends, and so additional guidance will be communicated as details are available.
  • Due to the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and in an abundance of caution for the health and safety of both travellers and residents, all incoming visitors must present a COVID-19 RT-PCR Negative (Swab) Test upon arrival. Results must be no more than ten (10) days old. o Select individuals will be exempt from testing, which includes children under the age of two, private pilots who do not deplane, and Bahamian citizens, residents and homeowners returning from English speaking CARICOM countries.
  • All travellers will be required to complete an electronic Health Visa. Additional information is forthcoming.
  • No quarantine will be required upon arrival, however, travellers who show symptoms of COVID-19 may be transferred to an area away from other passengers for further testing and evaluation.
  • All inter-island travellers must complete an electronic Domestic Travel form at travel.gov.bs prior to departure and for any inter-island travel within The Bahamas. An automated response will be provided upon completion. All travellers must have their confirmation on hand upon arrival to their destination. This is a crucial step for contact tracing purposes.
  • At airports and seaports, healthcare personnel will conduct temperature screenings for all incoming visitors. Travellers will be required to wear a face mask in any situation where it is necessary to enforce physical distancing guidelines, such as when entering and transiting air and sea terminals, while navigating security and customs screenings, and at baggage claim.
As part of Phase 2, hotels and vacation rentals, including Airbnb and HomeAway will open to guests. Domestic and International airlines are permitted to resume service, and many are beginning to announce plans for their return to The Bahamas:
  • Delta Airlines will be resuming its twice daily Atlanta to Nassau service 2nd
  • United Airlines announced its daily Houston to Nassau service will resume 6th and the Saturday-only Denver to Nassau service will resume 11th July.
  • American Airlines will resume flights to Nassau and Exuma on 7th
  • Air Canada is scheduled to resume flights from Toronto to Nassau on 3rd July, 2020.
Additional airlift resumptions are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Travellers should check with airlines directly for details on recommencement of service and any protocols for travel. This 1st July tourism re-entry builds on and supports existing government rules and regulations, which already allows for the resumption of travel for international boaters, yachters and those traveling on private aviation as well as inter-island domestic travel for Bahamian citizens and residents. Once on island, travellers should expect to follow The Bahamas’ “Healthy Traveler Campaign” that encourages both visitors and residents to continue practicing social distancing measures, regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizers, and pack appropriate PPE such as face masks, just as they would their swimsuits and sunscreen. A Certification Agency has been established – representing a collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Health, and other regulatory agencies – to enforce a Clean & Pristine certification program across the islands. All tourism related, customer-facing entities in The Bahamas must verify they have in place and are adhering to the Government approved health and safety guidelines to receive Clean & Pristine certification. Adequate signage outlining policies will be clearly displayed at all locations helping to guide staff and visitors. Travellers are encouraged to visit direct business websites prior to booking or traveling to ensure they are aware and comfortable with the policies they will need to abide by. Additional details about on-island protocols can be found at www.bahamas.com/travelupdates. The re-opening of borders will continue to be monitored and guided by The Bahamas government and health officials. Reopening dates are subject to change based on COVID-19 trends, if there is a deterioration in improvement or if government and health organizations deem these phases unsafe for residents or visitors. The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation believes it is an absolute baseline requirement for consumers to have a comfort level that The Bahamas is a safe and healthy destination to visit, and the ultimate goal is for that to remain the case. For more information, or to view the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan, visit: www.bahamas.com/travelupdates

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. It’s great the Bahamas are taking this seriously and putting what sound like quite logical and stringent measures in place. When you say about the swab testing, it’s noted that ”all incoming visitors must present a COVID-19 RT-PCR Negative (Swab) Test upon arrival. Results must be no more than ten (10) days old”. Do they not do the swab testing at the airport, or are tourists needing to try to get their own test done prior to landing somehow? Maybe I read it wrong.

    Either way, testing first thing is so important and I’d say more logical than the UK’s initial idea of a two week quarantine. I like that the Bahamas have set up the Healthy Traveller Campaign and are enforcing the use of social distancing, hand sanitising and face masks. I hope face masks become more of a ‘thing’ and more obligatory because you’d imagine they’re better than nothing considering this is primarily an airborne virus.

    I’d feel more reassured going somewhere like the Bahamas knowing what measures they have in place. I think I’d prefer to be there rather than here right now, that’s for sure! :)

    1. I think that’s the whole point, too. To be careful in how you open your borders back up, in terms of how authorities are implementing safety procedures. They obviously want to get their tourism and economies running again, so attracting people by doing it right, that’s crucial. I’d want to go somewhere safe, obviously.

  2. The Bahamas has always been a wonderful holiday paradise, I’ve enjoyed my time on the islands that I’ve visited. It’s reassuring to read how thorough the island’s Covid preparations are. With those precautions in mind it’s definitely a destination that I’d like to visit again soon.

    1. I’ve lived in the States most of my life and as I’ve gotten older, I feel some slight regret that I never visited the Bahamas. Now that I’m in my early thirties, it’s definitely up there at the top of my list as a place to visit sooner rather than later.

  3. Another destination opening their borders to international travellers, with all the precautionary measures, of course. I would have to qualms about going through all the safety checks and protocols just to ensure everyone and my own safety. I would want my country to do this much when we do open our borders. I am happy to see even if it’s ever so slowly, tourism is getting back on its feet. I would love to see more countries follow as we all pray to defeat this devastating virus. Although it has changed the way we do normal things, I believe this time in mankind’s history is one big lesson to us all.

  4. Finally, some good news! It’s so great reading stuff like this. Feels like I’ve been reading such terrible news for the last four months, it has really felt never-ending at times. So I’m glad to see such a beautiful place re-opening properly to tourists.

  5. It is important to strictly implement health safety measures in the Bahamas since visitors come from different places around the world. It would post a risk on the locals and other tourists if people are not screened properly with regards to the existing virus. However, with the decision to start the tourism industry, I think that it would not be that easy for any establishment to fully function and there will surely be fewer visitors than expected.

    There is still a need to control the number of people in one place to ensure health and safety, and to minimize the risk of spreading the virus in case one person is infected but asymptomatic. It means that establishments cannot accommodate the maximum capacity as we face the new normal. Contact tracing can also be done by distributing forms that contain basic information such as name, contact number, body temperature, and other relevant information with regards to symptoms. This should be done to easily trace people if there is a reported positive case in the area. Establishment owners can easily trace if that person went to their shop or who are the other people present that day.

    There are a lot of things that should be considered before the tourism industry can fully recover and their plans should be able to adapt to the new normal in order for it to be sustainable. But it is good to end with a note that slowly we are getting there, even with just opening one country at a time.

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