The Bahamas is officially reopening to tourism again, entering phase 3 of the nation’s Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan. Before you pack your bags and book your next trip, this is what you need to know.
As of October 15th, beaches and major hotels are now permitted to open. There are still limitations though. All visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 (RT-PCR) test, which cannot be taken more than seven days prior to arrival. Only children age 10 and under are exempt.
Travelers will still have to apply for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa, where they must upload their negative test results. Upon arrival, visitors will be given a rapid antigen test, and then given another one four days later. The cost of these tests is included in the cost of the health visa.
Between now and October 31st, all visitors will have to take part in the country’s “Vacation in Place” requirement. This means all visitors will have to remain on the grounds of their hotel, resort, or accommodations for 14 days or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter. Guests will be allowed to use amenities on the grounds during this time such as gyms, pools, bars, and restaurants.
However, the Vacation in Place requirement is being lifted on November 1st. Visitors will be allowed to freely move outside of their accommodations after arrival, exploring local attractions and excursions.
Airlines such as American Airlines have already begun to prepare, resuming flights from Miami to Freeport, North Eleuthera, and George Town. Major resorts haven’t reopened yet. Exuma was recently dealt a blow when Sandals’ announced they wouldn’t be reopening its Emerald Bay resort until February 2021.
As wonderful as the news is about tourism reopening in the Bahamas, the nation has been struggling with a second wave of COVID-19 after being relatively unscathed during the first surge of the pandemic. The country has continuously altered its tourism restrictions and local COVID-19 regulations. Lockdowns, curfews, and closures have been consistently changing. This has been a major deterrent to tourism.
Many locals in the tourism industry have been calling the government to pick a course and stick with it. It remains to be seen whether reopening will see another surge in cases, or whether the new measures help curb the pandemic from spreading.