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OBA renews call for TAF to be scrapped

Time to listen: Michael Dunkley the Shadow Minister of Health (File photograph)

The controversial Travel Authorisation form is damaging the island’s tourism industry and must be scrapped, it has been claimed.

Michael Dunkley, the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance spokesman on health, said that the form, which has to be filled out by anyone entering the island, was putting Bermuda at a disadvantage.

The Government introduced the form in 2020 in an effort to screen visitors for Covid-19. Arriving passengers must pay $40 for the form and are barred from entry if they fail to fill it out correctly.

But although other Covid-19 public safety measures have been relaxed, the Government has insisted that the form will remain mandatory until at least next year. The form generated an estimated $14 million in fees for the Government last year.

Yesterday, Mr Dunkley said that he had heard of several instances where people’s travel plans were disrupted because of problems with the form.

He said: “It’s time that the Government listened to the what the travelling public is saying – do away with the Travel Authorisation form.

“There have been numerous complaints about delayed requests in obtaining the TA form. It has caused heightened anxiety and angst.

“I have been repeatedly contacted by distressed travellers and in one case that I am aware of, a family was forced to cancel its vacation because they did not receive their authorisations in time for departure. This leaves a family with a bad view of Bermuda and dollars lost in accommodations, transport as well as goods and services.”

Mr Dunkley said he had also seen a letter circulated by Carnival Cruise Line which claimed that some passengers were unable to disembark from a liner berthed in Bermuda last week because of problems with the form.

He said: “The TA is putting Bermudians at a disadvantage when, in this case, people can’t get off a ship.

“That’s food being taken off the table for establishments in Dockyard who have already suffered greatly after two bleak years of Covid. Transportation ambassadors lose out on much needed work.

“As we work to rebound from Covid and a poor economy prior to Covid, Bermuda needs to ensure that it has the best competitive edge.

“At this time we are losing out to competing jurisdictions simply because the Government won’t listen. The form is a detriment and is impacting the future of Bermudians from all walks of life.

“It’s time for Premier Burt and the Government to wake up and understand the damage the TA is doing.

“Bermuda used to be a leader and sadly now it seems like we are a follower. Competing islands in the Caribbean have seen the wisdom in getting rid of cumbersome forms and to open up, as people want to travel.

“People want to live again after numerous Covid restrictions and they are going to places that are easy for them to get into and feel welcomed.

“Currently this is not the case in Bermuda for local and visitors alike. We must do better.”

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Published May 02, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated May 01, 2022 at 8:49 pm)

OBA renews call for TAF to be scrapped

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