||Last Updated: Jan 27, 2021 - 1:49:14 PM
Our nation is in an economic crisis and our number 1 industry has taken a major hit due to restrictions imposed by the governments of our major tourist markets. It is unclear and uncertain when tourist arrivals will return to pre-COVID levels with projections suggesting this will take three to five years.
In March 2020, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) rolled out its recommendations for an economy in the face of the pandemic. We stated then and repeat now, that policies, incentives, promotions and protocols which encourage domestic tourism will be pivotal to keep us afloat until the tourism industry bounces back.
Today, we are calling for a review and rethinking of the policy which requires Bahamians to take a RT PCR test rather than the rapid antigen test in order to travel from New Providence or Grand Bahama to our Family Islands. This is essential in order to bolster and encourage domestic travel while injecting funds into our local economy and keeping Bahamians employed.
The high cost associated with the RT PCR test is a deterrent to inter island travel by Bahamians who wish to vacation in The Bahamas. When this cost is factored into the overall travel cost, individuals could be faced with an expense of $600 before factoring accommodation and other costs.
In light of the foregoing, we call on the government to consider the approval of the use of the rapid antigen test which costs about $40 but is more affordable until such time as this requirement can be totally eliminated. This recommendation is consistent with advice from medical professionals who have indicated that the rapid antigen tests have become more reliable.
Challenging times call for creativity, innovation and thinking outside the box. We must diversify our tourism industry and our economy at large.
Omar B. Smith
Spokesperson for Tourism
Democratic National Alliance
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