Government discouraging domestic travel, notes D’Aguilar
In an about-face from its initial stance of promoting domestic tourism, the government is now discouraging Bahamians from traveling, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said.
When it became apparent that visitor arrivals would be slow, tourism officials touted plans in May to encourage Bahamians to visit the Family Islands.
That was before the second surge of COVID-19 which led to the government restricting inter-island travel and implementing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for residents or visitors traveling to any part of the country.
“If you want to go to a Family Island, you’re going to have to quarantine for 14 days. You’re going to have to take a test, domestically if you can, if you want to move from a COVID-19 center. So let’s assume, if you want to move from New Providence you’re going to have to take a test if you go down there,” D’Aguilar said earlier this week.
“We want to discourage travel right now, we want to flatten the number of cases and bring it down. So yes, these will be difficult rules to adhere to but the attempt is to – and coming from the minister of tourism this is difficult to say – discourage travel until we bring the cases under control and then we’ll review it again.”
The Bahamas opened its borders to international commercial flights on July 1. Foreign visitors were required to submit a COVID-19 PCR negative test less than 10 days old to enter the country, while Bahamians wanting to travel out of the country for less than 72 hours were not required to produce a negative test or quarantine.
In the four weeks since allowing open travel through its borders, the country has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases by more than 400.