The Bahamas is still battling COVID-19, but the country has announced its plans to reopen tourism for the holiday season. There’s a catch though- they plan on implementing new rules that will hopefully allow them to keep tourism open throughout the busy season and keep case numbers low.
The Bahamas reopened their borders on July 1st, but only a few weeks later were forced to restrict travel to a few regions as case numbers started to soar. The U.S, the largest tourist market for the country, was noticeably banned due to the high cause numbers in the country. The Bahamas is still open for tourism, but lockdowns since July have resulted in extremely limited flights and closed down businesses resulting in visitors hesitant in booking trips.
Now, the Bahamas hopes to launch Phase 3 of general tourism on October 15th. By this date, the government has plans to reopen all major hotels and resorts, including beaches. They also hope to resume more frequent flights, including those from the U.S.
There will be rules in place though. Visitors will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival and will have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. However, the country has pitched a clever way to use the 14-day quarantine as a luxury vacation.
The government has announced a new ‘VIP’ entry rules, which stands in this case for “Vacation in Place”. They hope to launch this program on November 1st.
“What we envision is that when a person goes on to a hotel property they will be allowed to use all the facilities in that hotel and be allowed to move freely within that property Everyone coming onto that property would have received a COVID test prior to arrival. We are encouraging the staff to be tested as well. It will be a safe bubble where guests would be allowed to move around the property,” Stated Minister of Tourism, Dionisio D’Aguilar.
Visitors would be taken directly to their hotel upon arrival, and stay there for 14 days, or the entire length of their trip if shorter. On the property, guests would be able to enjoy all amenities such as the pool, beach, spa, gym, and restaurants. This will make it feel less like quarantine and more like a true vacation.
The VIP program also includes AirBnB or private boat accommodations. However, travelers will not be able to leave the property and must arrange for things such as food to be delivered.
If the VIP program goes well the Bahamas will also look to reopen attractions, tours, and excursions with strict ‘bubble’ rules in place.
It remains to be seen how well the new VIP travel rules will work. The Bahamas saw a massive spike in case numbers after reopening their border previously. Still, the country is heavily reliant on tourism, especially during the holiday season.