Hon. Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, Q.C.
M.P., Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador
The Progressive Liberal Party will end the travel visa immediately upon forming the next government.
In contrast, the FNM government intends to keep the travel visa in place at least through 2023.
The travel visa is an unnecessary tax imposed by the FNM government on Bahamian families and businesses when they can least afford it.
The PLP does not believe Bahamians should be charged to travel within their own country, nor should Bahamians be charged to return home after traveling abroad.
Because any testing or insurance requirements related to COVID may be kept in place as needed without the travel visa, there is no purpose for the visa that justifies the additional cost burden.
Indeed, many Bahamians traveling from one island to another already report being asked to show their negative COVID test in addition to showing their travel visa.
The PLP would also end the travel visa for visitors; at a time when our economy is still in very serious trouble, the travel visa makes our tourism product less competitive – travelers visiting Barbados, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, the Dominican Republic or any number of other Caribbean destinations are not required to purchase a travel visa for each family member on top of other testing and insurance costs.
Regarding the Ministry of Tourism claim that the airlines forced them to adopt the travel visa,
Bahamians can judge for themselves whether this is believable, given the large number of Caribbean countries who never required a travel visa and nonetheless experienced no trouble with international airlines flying passengers in and out.
Regarding questions about why the government chose a new company to administer the travel visa, one in which the FNM Campaign Coordinator is a shareholder and director, the government claims there was no time for a competitive bidding process.
Bahamians fear the Emergency Orders have been used to circumvent the procurement process and hide the details of contracts awarded to the family, friends and donors of the FNM.
If the Competent Authority and Ministry of Tourism want to address the concerns of the people, they can begin by providing up-to-date audited statements of visa expenses, revenues and fees.
They call this a travel visa, but really it is functioning as a new tax on the people. However, instead of going into the government’s consolidated fund, the money has gone — and stayed — in the account of a hand-picked private company with ties to senior FNMs. The people’s money, staying in a private account – where are the Auditor General and the Attorney General?
The travel visa is a burdensome, unnecessary tax on Bahamians at a time of widespread economic pain. The PLP will end it.
 The government’s Annual Budget 2021-2022 Revenue and Expenditure Estimates, p. 25.