The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation of The Bahamas, in conjunction with the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Committee, has developed a comprehensive strategy to reopen its borders and welcome back international visitors beginning July 1.
The strategy will cover all aspects of visiting The Bahamas from arrivals to departures, whether it be via air or sea. Additionally, there will be a new certification program that all hotels, dining establishments, and “other consumer-facing tourism entities and touchpoints” will be required to implement to ensure the health and safety of workers and travellers alike.
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“We must remember that we are living in a new normal in the wake of COVID-19, and a lot is going to change across the tourism sector,” Director-General of Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Joy Jibrilu said in a press release.
“We are putting an even greater emphasis on making sure The Bahamas is safe and clean for everyone, and look forward to once again providing travellers with the tropical experience our islands are known for.”
The country is entering a phased reopening approach, where it will gradually ease its restrictions to ensure that precautionary measures are followed and that the health sector is prepared and able to respond as needed.
In the first phase, starting on June 15, those with boats, yachts, and private planes will be permitted to enter the country. As these individuals are part of a smaller population, it will allow for a more controlled group to determine the effectiveness of the new procedures.
At this time, commercial airlines will be permitted to execute repatriation initiatives to bring back the citizens, legal residents, and homeowners that qualify for permanent residency and their immediate family members/significant others.
It is predicted that, during this phase, flight schedules will be reduced as airlines begin reintroducing flights to The Bahamas into their scheduled routes, the release explains.
Phase 1 will also see hotels granting entry for employees to come back to work and implement all of the necessary protocols to ensure that they are entirely prepared to reopen once Phase 2 begins.
In Phase 2, which will begin on July 1, international travel to The Bahamas will be permitted to resume. Both commercial and domestic airlines will be able to schedule flights to the destination while hotels and short-term vacation rentals, such as Airbnb, will also be allowed to reopen.
In regards to when other phases will be implemented, the timing has not yet been announced but will be disclosed shortly, the release explains.
In terms of what travellers can expect, The Bahamas will continue to encourage them to adhere to physical distancing protocols, wash their hands regularly, and bring appropriate preventative equipment, including facial coverings, “just as they would their swimsuits and sunscreen.”
As well, visitors will have their temperatures checked at both airports and seaports.
For more information regarding what to expect surrounding accommodation, flights, transportation, as well as tours and excursions, visit the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation of The Bahamas website.
Note: As border closures and travel restrictions begin to lift, health authorities are reminding individuals to monitor themselves for any signs of COVID-19. If you are feeling unwell, it is recommended you stay at home. If you do decide to travel, follow the health and safety precautions and protocols outlined by the departure and arrival locations you will be travelling to/from.