Tourism plays a major role in the Bahamas’ economy, so it is no wonder that the government has been fielding questions about when its borders will open again for international travel. Now we finally have a rough timeline.
The Bahamas is targeting July 1st to reopen its borders to international tourists, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis. “We are looking at a possible date for commercial travel on or before July 1 of this year.”
Tourists shouldn’t rush to rebook their trips yet though. Minnis made it clear that this date is not set in stone. “These dates may change depending on the circumstance. I want to repeat, however, that this date is not final,” said the Prime Minister. “It will be adjusted if we see a deterioration of the COVID-19 infection trends or if we’ve determined that the protocols and procedures are not in place sufficiently to warrant this opening,” added Minnis.
The Bahamas is just now entering phase 2 of its reopening strategy, with international travel and tourism operations being allowed to open during the fifth and final stage.
“Our resorts, our airports and our seaports are finalizing the health and safety protocols that will be necessary for us to provide for a re-opening,” said Minnis. “Taking into account what is being done within the region and around the world, these extensive guidelines will be designed to provide for reasonable assurance that travel and leisure are generally safe. Any such reopening to commercial-scale traffic will also be dependent on the ongoing stabilization of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Bahamas.”
Sandals Resorts, which has two locations in the Bahamas, has also announced they are planning on reopening the majority of their Caribbean locations in June. However, its Bahamian locations in Nassau and Exuma were given a later reopening date of July, which matches up with the Bahamian government’s dates.
The Bahamas’ tourism sector will also depend on when markets such as the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. allow international travel to resume.
While international travel may still be a few weeks off, Prime Minister Minnis announced plans for a COVID-19 travel card that will help facilitate domestic travel between the islands.
The government has already begun to relax restrictions on more Family Islands. Commercial activity on Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco, and Andros has been permitted to resume. However, Exuma, San Salvador, and Eleuthera are still waiting for the green light to be reopened. This has caused tension in Exuma as the province has no reported cases of COVID-19.
Overall, this is great news of the Bahamas. Tourism is essential to the economic health of the country. With new health and safety measures in place, tourists could soon start enjoying the beauty of the Bahamas again!