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BHTA states travel restrictions for US flights were unavoidable

Despite the negative impact of the government’s most recent travel restrictions on the hotel industry, the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) stated it supports the measures, noting that it was “unavoidable”.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis earlier this week announced that commercial flights from the United States carrying passengers would not be permitted to enter the country.

At least one hotel has revealed it will have to close its doors again as a result of this measure impacting its primary source market.

The BHTA stated it supports the deployment of the measures, policies and procedures put in place to protect the health and safety of Bahamian citizens, residents and visitors as the government navigates the ever-evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been pleased to work alongside and in alignment with private and public sector partners, including the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health, who have worked assiduously to develop and enact the sustained recovery of our tourism sector. Since the onset of this epic pandemic, the sheer unpredictable circumstances surrounding this virus made planning the specific trajectory of our recovery with any degree of certainty an impossible task,” the BHTA noted in a statement.

“The most recent restrictions implemented by the government pertaining to the respective sectors of travel, i.e. international commercial flights with the exception of flights from the UK, European Union and Canada; and sea vessels carrying commercial passengers, has and will continue to impact the tourism sector. This is unavoidable due to the fact the US is our most prominent source market.”

While commercial airlines are not permitted to bring passengers from the United States to The Bahamas, private aircraft and charters, as well as yachts are permitted to enter the country as long as passengers complete health requirements and obtain a health visa.

Sandals Emerald Bay on Great Exuma is reportedly closing its doors on Wednesday, the last day commercial flights are allowed in the country..

The BHTA stated it will continue to coordinate with its tourism stakeholders to ensure that when the new travel restrictions are lifted, The Bahamas can offer a safe and enjoyable vacation experience to visitors.

“We applaud the incredible efforts and achievements by tourism stakeholders in both the public and private sector as they implemented health and safety preparations and protocols, undertook requisite certification procedures and commenced and facilitated training exercises, in a commendable effort to ready themselves, the destination, for the phased and metered opening of our borders to international and local travel,” the statement pointed out.

“We will continue to work with our partners to review areas for enhancement of efficiencies, to streamline and strengthen processes and procedures designed to make the travel experience, from booking to arrival to The Bahamas, as expeditious, warm and welcoming as possible.” 

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