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Baha Mar hopes govt lobbies US for vaccination exemption

Baha Mar President Graeme Davis suggested yesterday that the Minnis administration should lobby the US government to waive the COVID-19 testing requirement for fully vaccinated people going to the US.

Fully vaccinated people traveling both domestically and internationally in The Bahamas are exempted from testing requirements. Previously, all travelers needed an RT-PCR test to enter the country and to travel between certain islands.

Davis said the move is a game changer.

“Now, the Bahamian government’s implementation of the vaccination exemption for uploading a negative PCR COVID test, we think that’s a game changer, certainly for the country and certainly for the industry for us,” he said.

“So, we are very excited to see that.

“We look forward to the Bahamian government lobbying the US government to stop the testing to go back if you’ve been vaccinated.”

“So, we are looking forward to having that get implemented as well – that if you’ve been vaccinated, uploading that vaccination form into the health visa and then being able to get an exemption to go back to the states. [That] would be fantastic for all of us as well.”

The US requires all passengers entering the country, including US citizens and legal and permanent residents, to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure. 

The Bahamas, like other countries around the world, closed all non-essential businesses after it recorded its first case of COVID-19 in March 2020.

All of the major hotels in the country closed their doors during that time.

Baha Mar reopened last December and Davis said the hotel has steadily received bookings.

The hotel also offers COVID-19 testing for guests and employees.

“The testing protocols have been fantastic,” Davis said.

“We are now over 105,000 tests since we’ve opened. Our positivity rate still continues to be low at .0015. That’s 1.5 guests and associates per thousand.

“It’s been working very well. Our travel with confidence program has been very, very successful.

“We’ve only seen a few guests participate in the travel with confidence program, which shows that we have a very low positivity rate.”

As part of its travel with confidence program, Baha Mar “pledges that should a resort guest test positive during their stay, Baha Mar will facilitate their quarantine with courtesy suite accommodations and a daily resort dining credit of $150 per person per day, for up to 14 days or until the guest receives a negative COVID-19 result”.

Davis added that Baha Mar’s booking pace continues to be strong.

“Right now, we are seeing our booking pace exceeding 2019 on the leisure side,” he said.

“For the group market, we are seeing that still delayed. We’ll probably see a pick up in Q3 and into Q4 but our leisure pace is very, very strong.

“We are still not at occupancy levels higher than 2019. We are still significantly behind but we are making some great progress going forward.”

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018. Education: College of The Bahamas, English

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