Strict Covid testing can be a tourist ʽdeal breaker’ warn BHA
Hoteliers warned last night the island’s strict coronavirus testing was impeding the revival of tourism.
Stephen Todd, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA), told The Royal Gazette: “One challenge we are still having is the comparisons drawn between Bermuda and other jurisdictions that do not have the level of ongoing testing that we have.
“It is seen by some sectors of international travellers as a deal breaker.”
Mr Todd said the BHA had been watching how the island measured up to competing destinations.
The Association has not singled out the Caribbean, but he added: “They are a point of reference.”
Bahamas and Barbados simply require negative tests for the virus to grant entry, while Bermuda currently requires more tests on day 4, 8 and 14.
Mr Todd said: “When you arrive in Bermuda, you’re tested at the airport and you check into your hotel where you’re permitted to move around the property until you get the negative result.
“You’re then free to move around the island, which is great. It’s the continued tests which other jurisdictions have relaxed that are having a negative impact, because we are seen to be far more restrictive.
“As much as we are saying we are a safe destination, we are not on the same playing field as others.
“I think it is acting somewhat to our detriment. It’s prohibitive.”
Mr Todd said leisure tourism bore the brunt, and the island continued to be “somewhat restrictive in terms of groups” with limits on 25 or more people.
“If 30 people come to Bermuda to have a wedding and stay within their bubble, we are still required to get approval from National Security.
“If we can’t do that quickly, that business is not waiting for us. They’ll go elsewhere.”
He said hoteliers felt there was “an over abundance of caution” but remained optimistic that rules would ease as the island’s Covid-19 cases and local transmission of the virus continued to fall.
“We remain hopeful as we progress beyond June 6 and we get community immunity in a bigger way.
“But the problem is the longer it takes us to move through that process, the harder it is to retain that business. June 6 may be the next level of reduced restrictions, but that may not be enough time.”