Scrap TA form now, vacation rental owners tell Government
Representatives of more than 600 Bermuda vacation rentals have called on the Government to scrap the Travel Authorisation form, saying it is negatively impacting tourism.
Bravo, the Bermuda Rental Association of Vacation (Home) Owners, penned a joint letter asking the Government to replace the process with a “more seamless, painless process” for arriving visitors.
A spokeswoman for the group said: “The TA process is causing a lot of angst with tourists, which in turn is causing a negative tourist experience among our guests.
“Government is losing thousands [spending for accommodations, restaurants, taxis, excursions, etc] in order to make $40, which doesn’t seem to make economic sense.
“As the TA is checked twice by officials upon arrival, simply ask arrivals to show proof of vaccination and negative Covid test? Also, if Government remains unwilling to waive the $40 per person fee, why not simply collect these funds at the airport upon arrival?
“A larger group, an extended family of nine, must complete and submit nine TAs, including nine payments of $40, and wait for nine approvals.
“If the TA were eliminated, this same family could simply show their vaccination certificates and negative Covid test upon landing, and then make a one-time payment of the fee by credit card.
“Vacation rentals have all had a very difficult two years of losses due to Covid-19. We cannot understand why Government continues to support the TAs when it is clearly hurting our tourism recovery.”
These guests cancelled their entire stay: “We are old and very confused and not with it on all of these electronic requirements (Covid, Travel Authorisation, etc.). Therefore, we are very sorry that we must cancel our trip to Bermuda. I am not sure how to do this and get a refund”.
These guests had a six-night booking and because of TA delays, originally rebooked their flights to arrive two days later. They then decided to just cancel their entire booking: “The delay was because of the government (sic) and the process has been confusing and stressful. We have now had to each pay for two Covid tests and moving flights twice because of the process and delayed response. This is turning out to be the most expensive vacation we never took.”
Guests commented pre-arrival after having gone through the TA application process: “We will need a holiday after having completed all the hours of relentless paperwork to get to you!”
E-mail regarding TA from frustrated guests: “Loosing our minds. CVS cancelled our PCR tests so we ran to another place and decided to spend $160 each for an antigen test.”
“XXX’s (TA) application will not go through. I put in my e-mail and it will not accept so started a second time same problem with the email. Called Bermuda they have no idea why not accepting his application. They want to send me a screen shot of the application. I called it quits. Will see if we can do it a third time tomorrow and get it to go through. You might want to let the Tourism Board know.”
A separate online petition calling for the TA to be dropped has now attracted about 2,800 signatures.
David Burt, the Premier, said in January this year: “I do not believe the Travel Authorisation will go out of use until the earliest I would say April 1, 2023.”
Kim Wilson, the health minister, said last July that the Government had taken in $5.42 million from the scheme in the first year after it was introduced.
The Budget book showed that revenues from TA fees were expected to reach $22 million in 2022-23.