Tourists Denied Entry
Some of the country’s most recent visitors eager to enjoy the sun, sand and sea of The Bahamas found themselves sorely disappointed upon arrival. The visitors who had been approved by Tourism officials to travel here were told upon arrival by local health personnel that they should not have been approved to travel to The Bahamas. Health officials indicated that the visitors' applications did not meet the necessary testing requirements. The government mandates that along with the completion of an electronic health visa application, visitors must submit a negative COVID-19 results from a RT PCR molecular diagnostic test. These visitors reportedly submitted results from the less accurate rapid test. The visitors were baffled as to how they were given the green light to travel by the Ministry of Tourism if they did not meet the entry requirements.
The number of visitors affected by this apparent Tourism goof-up is uncertain, but sources say this confusion has been happening since the country’s borders were reopened on July 1st. NAD officials have not reported any hiccups and actually touted recent visitor arrivals as a success. The Gallery sought to speak with several US airlines yesterday – just to get a take on their experience since arrivals began – but those officials declined to comment. There has been no word either from the Ministry of Tourism or its minister, Dionisio D’Aguilar on the matter. The Ministery of Health, however, yesterday released an update to its testing protocol for all travellers wishing to come to The Bahamas.
According to the update, travellers must complete the electronic Bahamas Health Visa application before departure from the place of embarkation and present a negative COVID-19 RT PCR test with a sample taken within ten days of arrival. The negative swab test will only be accepted if the sample is taken within 10 days of arrival. Travellers have to upload the required negative COVID-19 RT PCR test and they must provide contact information at travel.gov.bs.
This update to the protocol takes immediate effect, the statement from the Ministry noted.
A green – and only a green – coloured coded response signals the application for travel has been approved and this confirmation must be presented upon arrival into the country.
Health officials say the health visa process will take some 24 – 48 hours and should be completed with adequate lead time. They recommend that travellers review the requirements applicable to each member of their travelling party at www.bahamas.com/travelupdates before booking a trip. Anyone who fails to comply with the requirements will be denied entry.
This latest update comes after The Gallery revealed the existing confusion visitors are experiencing at the country's border.