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D’Aguilar: More Visitors Every Month

TOURISM Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

TOURISM Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that visitor arrivals to The Bahamas are increasing “every month” after 64,047 non-residents bought travel health visas to the country in April.

This represents about a six percent increase from the month before, however the travel numbers are far below pre-pandemic levels.

According to the latest data released by tourism officials, in November 2020, 13,994 foreign visitors bought travel health visas; 32,061 foreign visitors made visa purchases in December 2020; 20,768 did in January 2021 and 28,425 did in February.

March saw 60,497 people purchasing the travel visas, while April had 64,047.

However, this comes after a recent Central Bank report revealed that total foreign arrivals in the country declined by nearly 80 percent in March.

Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar said while the numbers are still a far cry from what the country saw prior to COVID, the figures indicate that The Bahamas is making some progress.

However, he also noted it will take some time before the nation fully recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The good news is the number of foreign arrivals (is) increasing every month so it’s heading in the right direction. The bad news is it’s still 20, 30, 40 percent of what it used to be,” he said before going to a Cabinet meeting.

“So, I think it’s always important to put in perspective that we are nowhere (near our) 2019 numbers and that’s understandable and we’re still in the throes of this pandemic and it’s going to take time as persons get vaccinated and feel safe enough to travel for them to think about a holiday.

“But, I could say the numbers are ever increasing and persons are obviously interested in a warm weather destination and they’re choosing the Bahamas but it’s still going to take some time for us to get back where we used to be but the good news is it’s heading in the right direction.”

According to the country’s latest travel amendments, fully vaccinated visitors who have passed the two-week immunity period are now allowed entry to The Bahamas without having to take a COVID test.

Fully vaccinated travellers are also exempted from testing requirements when travelling domestically from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera to any other island.

Asked if officials have seen an uptick in travel applications since the latest travel announcements, Mr D’Aguilar replied that it’s still too early to tell.

He told reporters: “So, if I look at the health visa as an indicator and the number of applications that we’re receiving every day, that number is ever increasing so while it’s too early to tell (as) we’re only on day four, I think the indication is that more and more people are applying for a health visa based on the fact that they’re vaccinated.

“What is interesting is once people have gotten vaccinated, they want to get ahead of the decision to travel or not to travel to the Bahamas and they’re making applications for health visas months in advance and that’s begging to add traffic to the application process.

“We are not there yet but once you have determined to be vaccinated, every time you apply for a health visa, the system will look to see that you have been vaccinated and your vaccination records have been vetted and you’ll be automatically approved for travel, thereby reducing the need to check every single travel request as they come into the country.”

In an interview with The Tribune on Sunday, Mr D’Aguilar raised concern about the possibility of people uploading false vaccination documents, given the fact that many US states and other countries use different vaccination cards.

However, yesterday he reiterated that officials are currently working on a method to ensure visitors are not seeking to enter the country by fraudulent means when applying for travel health visas.

“But, for the time being, we think that the records that people are presenting are genuine and we’re just developing a mechanism on how best to validate that,” he added.

Comments

tribanon 4 months, 3 weeks ago

This little white-haired nincompoop thinks it's all about the tourist head count when in fact it's all about what the average tourist contributes to our economy in terms of hard currency. And as we all know, the many millions of cruise ship passengers who visited Nassau in the recent years before the pandemic, contributed very little to our economy as was evidenced by the profound continuing decay of the Nassau downtown district.

But since May 2017 D'Aguilar has persisted in bending-over backwards for the cruise ship industry, especially his friends at Royal Caribbean, while never doing enough to boost the air arrival 'onshore' hotel guests who have always been the real contributers to our tourism industry and the main stay of our nation's economy. Yup, for D'Aguilar it's all about the very meaningless 'head count game' that he most deceitfully plays with the public.

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newcitizen 4 months, 3 weeks ago

What are you going on about? Currently there are no cruise ships, so it turns out that the head count they are talking about now are all of the high contributors. What exactly are you complaining about?

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tribanon 4 months, 3 weeks ago

D'Aguilar's playing 'the headcount game' to support and justify his keen desire to fully re-open our country to 'economically worthless' cruise ship visitors as soon as the corrupt and greedy cruise ship operators figure out an effective 'lobbying way' of getting the CDC off of their backs.

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John 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Stick to the protocol that requires tourists to be tested even if the resorts must bare part of the cost.

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ThisIsOurs 4 months, 3 weeks ago

So in March the tourist arrival count TRIPLED ..... and so did COVID cases

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ThisIsOurs 4 months, 3 weeks ago

sorry doubled. cases went from 300 in Jan, 300 in Feb to 600 in March. Every other country know exactly where the case spikes coming from. Ask Canada

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Cobalt 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I think Mr. D’Aguilar is painting a false narrative here. Regardless of a so-called increase in visits, our tourism industry continues to struggle (as expected). Furthermore, once we are out of the pandemic, the government must deal with the undeniable fact that our country is a dump. Downtown Nassau looks HORRIBLE.

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Emilio26 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Cobalt you're actually correct that Downtown Nassau looks horrible. I think downtown needs a major renovation before any cruise ship passengers comes back to our shores. After most air passengers that comes to Nassau tends to stay out in the western part of New Providence in areas such as Cable Beach, Orange Hill, Old Fort Bay and Lyford Cay.

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tribanon 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The cruise ship comapnies and their passengers will only ever bring to our economy net costs. We therefore desperately need to re-focus our efforts and limited resources on air arrival visitors from the main tourist markets in the US and Canada in the years to come.

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DDK 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Fortunately for The Bahamas, Nassau is not the only visitor destination!

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TalRussell 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Dioniso James is having such a committed online affair with tourists' bookings, yes?

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John 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Biden is hoping to spend $6 TRILLION in short order for economic recovery and redevelopment of infrastructure. The Bahamas must not fall short in attempting to attract some of them big dollars here. Either thru tourism or getting Bahamians to go to the US on work permits. Biden says the US needs workers from Africa and the Caribbean (Haitians too). So let them pass thru.

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C2B 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Please name your source for this Biden quote you allege. You can't, because you invented it. Plain fiction.

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tribanon 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Bollocks! It's all over the leftist leaning main stream media outlets.

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Alan1 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Seeing will be believing whether tourist numbers will increase. Most of the population of Canada, the U.S.A. and the U.K. have not had their first vaccine yet alone the second which will be required soon to enter The Bahamas. What incentive is there for tourists to return here too quickly? The hassles required for the Health Visa continue and sadly many prospective visitors are going to other southern destinations which are easier to enter.

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C2B 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Exactly. It will be safe to travel to the Bahamas when there is no need for a Health Visa and not one day earlier. That's the Visa fail safe system. Or was it just another corrupt trick to syphon out cash for a private company? One plus one is always 2.

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