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Govt overcharging Bahamians for $40 travel health visa

Amid high unemployment, the government is overcharging Bahamians for a mandatory $40 travel health visa in order to subsidize North American visitors who receive a slew of benefits for the same price.

For $40, Bahamian travelers returning to the country get a free rapid antigen test, which costs $15 at Doctors Hospital West. Thats it.

However, for that same $40, North American tourists who test positive for Covid-19 while visiting The Bahamas can receive medical evacuation up to $50,000, up to $7,000 for trip interruption and delay during quarantine, up to $50,000 coverage of medical expenses, their stay in The Bahamas will be covered for up to 31 days and children under age 10 will be covered by CG Atlantic Insurance free of charge.

When asked to explain why Bahamians, who are not covered by covid-19 insurance, are paying the same price for a travel visa as tourists vacationing for five days or less, Tourism Director General Joy Jibrulu said “it just worked out” to the same price.

Not much of an explanation, is it?

Experts suggest that the $40 collected from hundreds of Bahamians, who are forced to purchase a travel health visa in order to return home after traveling abroad, goes toward the hefty expenses of tourists who catch Covid-19 while in The Bahamas.

It highlights another discriminatory facet of the government’s ever-changing travel policy, which also allows hotels to apply for special permission for their guests to frolic on Bahamian beaches even if Bahamians are under lockdown or beaches are closed again.

In the words of Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, maybe it’s another “trade off” Bahamians are expected to make in order to lure tourists to our shores.

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