Podcast #11- The Suit and The Salt
Planning a trip to the Bahamas this summer? This one’s for you. Today we welcome two gentlemen who live and breathe for the Bahamas. We have Joe Dargavage, owner of the beautiful Romora Bay Resort & Marina in Harbour Island & VP of the Association of Bahamas Marinas (ABM) along with HMY Yacht Sales Professional Brian Weaver who gives us his perspective from not only the water but also from the air as a pilot. We talk pink sand beaches, large marinas, fine dining, lobster season, Hurricane Dorian relief efforts, fishing spots, and ultimately, the heartwarming hospitality of the Bahamian people.
Here is a preview of the podcast below. For the whole episode, click here.
Brian Weaver: Joe's done a good job with the Bahamas and letting people come around there, and he made it where... I’ll let Joe explain it to you, but he's one of the head guys that made it happen for us to come over there.
Joe Dargavage: Yeah, it's been quite the, some people would call it a roller coaster for a bit of time. For those who don't realize that yachting and boating never officially closed in the Bahamas, it's the one targeted tourism market that stayed open. However, there are a lot of protocols coming and going over the course of the last year. It was over a year now because we had opened last June. I'm sorry. Closed last June, opened in July. Reclosed again at the end of July, reopening to regular tourism in the Bahamas in late November. But in between, there were a lot of protocols written and rewritten with boating and yachting tourism leading the way for actually opening up tourism in the Bahamas.
Brian Weaver: They did a great job, as one that travels a lot. They did a great job, The Bahamas did, by allowing it to be very simple to get over there. Covid test, you went online, you got your visa. It made it simple. So, it was really easy to get through and do that if you just follow the steps to the guidelines, they gave you.
Joe Dargavage: Yeah. We were actually very lucky and blessed. We are keeping this conversation very nonpolitical, but our Prime Minister is a medical doctor. So, he took it upon himself to really focus everything on the reopening of the country from a medical standpoint. So, once they kind of figured out what that standpoint would be, the Prime Minister and his cabinet partnered with the Ministry of Tourism to create what was really at that point in time was the very first health visa and is to this day. It is actually one of the only automated health visa programs that there is, including even in the United States, where there still isn't one.
Alexie Creary: What an accomplishment to say that you are a part of that, it is incredible. I personally have gone through the process of applying for the visa. I just did it for July 4th, and I can speak to how user-friendly it is. Like Brian said, this is allowing us to use our boats and travel and do it very effectively. And my hat goes off to you. It was a great process.
Joe Dargavage: Yeah. So, it was ongoing. It took a few months, but once it really got up and running, it's been fantastic. Well over 200,000 people have used it now since last November. And like I said, boating and yachting kind of led that forefront by allowing not only at first people to have the PCR test to come to the Bahamas, but now incorporating those who have been vaccinated. And so, at this point in time, as we sit here towards the end of July, the health visa program is still in place. To come to the Bahamas and to receive that health visa, you either need to be fully vaccinated or take a PCR test five days prior to coming.
Brian Weaver: Well, not only with that, but I’ve also been probably in the last 6, 8 months, I've probably been the Bahamas... I couldn't even count them, but at least 20 times. For different marinas and different tournaments. And not only if you're at Romora Bay, but if you want to leave there by plane, you must be tested within so many hours before leaving. So, you have to train all the staff, every marina, every hotel, every resort to administer these tests and to store these things. And it's been amazing that accomplishment for the Bahamas because sometimes they're a little behind on things, but they've really stepped up and done a great job with this.
If you’re interested in reaching out to Joe Dargavage or our HMY Yacht Sales Professionals Brian Weaver or Lexie Creary, you can find them here:
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