By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Thinking of going to the Bahamas? Better check the islands’ latest COVID-19 protocols, vaccine requirements.

The islands have just modified their already robust entry requirements due to COVID issues.

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When Americans got the COVID vaccine and began to travel, the Bahamas had a mid-pandemic tourism boom.

“We have seen a huge uptick in our visitor arrival numbers. They are probably nearing the months of June, July, August. That is 80% of where we were in 2019,” said Joy Jibrilu, Director General of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation.

Ninety percent of visitors from the US, including lots of folks from Florida, who fly in or take their boats to the islands requested 110,000 health visas in May.

“This summer was a record-breaking summer. Many destinations had numbers only seen at Christmas time,” said Alex Britell of Caribbean Journal.

But with the good news, COVID is always a challenge for tourist-based economies, for the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

“We have seen an uptick in cases in the Bahamas, almost mirroring what happening in Florida and with that uptick and pressure on medical health systems, the government revised early protocols,” added Jibrilu.

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So, getting into the Bahamas has an added layer of protection for residents and tourists alike.

If you were vaccinated, you were good to go with the Bahamas Health Visa. Now, even “if you were fully vaccinated you must take either a rapid antigen test or PCR test and apply for the health visa to enter”, said Jibrilu.

Other Caribbean nations are also making changes due to COVID count increases.

“Destinations are starting to slightly modify protocols to keep travel coming for the economy but also stay safe,” said Britell.

So, the message to travelers and tourists heading to the Bahamas or other islands nations is to do your homework. Protocols are fluid, the island governments are doing a delicate dance.

“How do you balance the economy with a health crisis?” asks Jibrilu.

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All air passengers returning to the US from Caribbean nations are required to have a negative COVID test result before boarding a flight back to the mainland.