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Dominica launches “Safe in Nature” Commitment for visitors

Roseau, Dominica – (October 5, 2020) Dominica has launched Safe in Nature, a programme geared at providing a safe experience to visitors from major tourism markets to the Nature Island during this COVID-19 pandemic. The Safe in Nature logo was also launched to the public.

The Safe in Nature commitment program is a result of the collective work of The Ministry of Tourism, International Transport and Maritime Initiatives, Discover Dominica Authority, Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association along with other tourism stakeholders, geared to revive the tourism industry.

Safe in Nature commitment program will ensure a managed experience throughout the first 5 – 7 days of visitors arriving to Dominica.  This managed experience includes the transportation services to and from the ports of entry, stay at a certified accommodation to include the activities and amenities on site, transportation services to select locations for destination activities,  These destination activities include water based and land based activities.

Safe in Nature also involves the holistic care of visitors to the Nature Island.  Wellness, being a major part of the lifestyle here on Dominica translates to Safe in Nature through the provision of wholesome and delicious creole cuisine, to local herbal teas and rum punches to cure all ailments, to our natural sulphur spas and of course natural skin care products.

“We are excited to announce the Safe in Nature commitment brand! To those thinking about travel, those thinking about visiting us to experience our rich cultural celebrations and cuisine, those needing a well-deserved break from chaos and crowds, those needing rejuvenation, we extend a warm invitation to Dominica where you, your family and friends will be Safe in Nature!”  Words from the Honourable Denise Charles, Minister for Tourism, International Transport and Maritime Initiatives.

With the launch of Dominica’s Caricom Travel Bubble in August which affords persons from select destinations relaxed entry and on-island requirements to now launching Safe in Nature, Dominica guarantees its visitors a true nature island feel on island while maintaining the safety of Dominicans and visitors alike.

Samantha Letang, Marketing Executive at Discover Dominica Authority expressed that “Dominica is not only a vacation, but a discovery and travel to Dominica especially now, can be transformative and the antidote to relieve the stress that many individuals and families are currently feeling.”

She states, “Dominica affords its visitors with world renowned diving, secluded sites and attractions perfect for distancing, top class hiking, out of the ordinary romantic escapes, an indigenous Kalinago population, healthy and tasty cuisine and so much more. And now we give you all this guaranteeing you will be Safe in Nature.

The tourism sector has definitely been heavily hit by this pandemic but with increased opportunities afforded through new partnerships in the airline industry along with solidifying those existing relationships, and now with the Safe in Nature commitment to visitors offering a managed experience while on island, the tourism sector now has the opportunity to re-cover.

Details of “Safe in Nature” managed experience can be found on the travel advisory page of Discover Dominica Authority at www.discoverdominica.com. Visitors should look to the actual experiences from their preferred accommodations who will detail such in the near future as the experiences are approved.

For more information on Dominica, contact Discover Dominica Authority at 767 448 2045, or visit Dominica’s official website: www.DiscoverDominica.com, follow Dominica on Twitter and Facebook and take a look at our videos on YouTube.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Destination News

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Curaçao Opens to US Tri-State Residents Exclusively

WILLEMSTAD – October 8, 2020 – After months of anticipation, the Curaçao Tourist Board enthusiastically announced border re-openings to residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Starting the first week of November, residents of the three aforementioned states will be the first Americans granted access to the sunny Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao since travel restrictions were imposed earlier this year.

Prior to arrival, all visitors must present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of traveling. To streamline the entry process, visitors will complete a Digital Immigration Card at dicardcuracao.com, upload their negative results to the portal, and fill out a Passenger Locator Card (PLC) online within 48 hours prior to departure. In addition, residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut must present a valid state-issued ID as proof of residence.

Non-stop flights from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) will resume on Nov. 7 with weekly service offered on United. The following month, JetBlue will offer twice weekly flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) beginning Dec. 9.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut now join Canada and other low- and medium-risk markets allowed entry into Curaçao, just named one of the best islands in the Caribbean in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards. The Curaçao Tourist Board – in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, the Environment & Nature, as well as the Ministry of Economic Development – define low- and medium-risk markets based on the latest figures and statistics from each territory meeting specified criteria.

“After consulting with the scientific community and an esteemed panel of doctors both in The Netherlands and on the island, we made the decision to slowly reopen Curaçao’s tourism industry to the US,” says Paul Pennicook, CEO of the Curaçao Tourist Board. “A multitude of factors were taken into account including current cases, airlift and impact on the local economy, among others.”

In an effort to keep the global and local community safe, earlier this year Curaçao implemented a set of health and safety protocols, branded “A Dushi Stay, the Healthy Way” — dushi meaning “sweet” in Papiamentu. The comprehensive program includes everything from personnel training and new social distancing practices to hygiene and sanitation guidelines. The sophisticated monitoring system run by the island’s public health office also includes personalized phone calls to all incoming visitors during their time in Curaçao.

Additionally, to easily consolidate all pertinent information, the tourist board developed a mobile application called “Dushi Stay.” One of the first apps of this kind, Dushi Stay gives travelers access to entry requirements, new island-wide protocols, emergency contact numbers and health tips, as well as open restaurants, attractions, beaches, etc. all at their fingertips.

“We will continue to closely monitor developments throughout the rest of the US,” adds Pennicook. “As we’ve enjoyed double digit growth from the US market over the last couple of years and the US accounts for a significant portion of Curaçao’s tourism arrivals, we look forward to the opening of other gateway cities as soon as conditions allow so that Americans can continue to experience this extraordinary destination.”

For more information on entry conditions and travel updates, visit www.curacao.com.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Destination News

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Grand Bahamas Island Ready to Welcome Visitors on Oct. 15th

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas, October 8th, 2020….  After a phased opening in July, the Government of The Bahamas closed the islands’ borders in response to a rise in Covid-19 cases, to bring the infection rate under control and protect the health of locals and visitors.

Beginning October 15th, Grand Bahama Island will enter Phase 3 of The Bahamas’ Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan, ahead of the busy holiday season.  Beaches and major hotels will reopen across the island, with a 14-day (or length of stay) “Vacation in Place” (VIP) for all guests through October 31st.  “Vacation in Place” (VIP) means that guests must remain on the hotel property, where all amenities, including hotel spas, gyms, bars and more will be accessible.

On November 1st, The Bahamas will remove the mandatory “VIP” requirement for all visitors, returning citizens and residents, which will allow everyone to explore and enjoy the island.  Attractions, excursions and tours are also set to reopen on November 1st as part of the Phase 3 plan.

As a special welcome back to visitors, the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Resort, scheduled to reopen on November 1st , 2020, is offering a HOT DEAL to book in advance and save up to 45% off.  The  Bahama Paradise Cruise Line  (BPCL) launched its new ‘Micro-Deposits for Micro-Cations’ offer, allowing travelers the opportunity to book future sailings to Grand Bahama Island or Nassau for early 2021 with just a US$25 deposit per person. Travelers who take advantage of this offer will enjoy a host of perks, including 10 free drinks, a US$50 onboard credit, free WiFi, and kids sail free.

Additionally, a variety of establishments on Grand Bahama Island are fully operational and eagerly awaiting visitors in order to display their special brand of island hospitality.  Sabor Bahamas and Out Da Sea Bar & Grill are among the favorites!  Flying Fish Restaurant in Freeport is home to the spectacular “Bahamian Burger” that is comprised of a tempura conch patty, lobster salad and house-smoked bacon.  The perfect accompaniment is the local favorite, a cold Sands Beer, that recently returned to production. The Bahamian Brewery was rebuilt after being destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.  If going out in public is a concern, Go-Gettas Delivery is an incredibly convenient service that connects customers and businesses with food, grocery, items, medication, and they tackle tasks as well.

Travelers can enjoy a “Surf & Turf” adventure by first visiting the gorgeous private enclave known as Garden of the Groves in Freeport.  It consists of trails and ponds, beautiful waterfalls, natural vegetation and home to over a hundred species of migratory and Bahamian birds.  Next up is a short boat ride with West End Ecology Tours to Sandy Cay where you can swim with stingrays or if you prefer, swim with a dolphin at the world renown UNEXSO. Other activities include spearfishing, swimming with sharks and freediving on a shipwreck.  Finish up by laying in the sun to enjoy the gentle breeze.

A curfew is still in place from 10 PM to 5 AM, but social events such as Weddings and Receptions are now allowed both outdoors and indoors as long as they are in accordance with the guidelines and protocols set forth by the Ministry of Health.  This bodes well for guests who travel far and wide to the island that has a reputation for romantic escapes and destination weddings.

Throughout the lockdown period, the International Airport at Freeport, which is in the midst of a terminal expansion project, remained open and was fully operational, receiving cargo, private flights, emergency and humanitarian flights.  The airport is now accepting international flights such as Silver Airways out of Florida; American Airlines returned on October 8th.  Bahamasair has been in operation domestically, but they are yet to announce when they will resume international flights.

The Ministry of Tourism continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health to establish and evaluate protocols and timelines with respect to the RT-PCR testing in advance of travel and curb any potential spread of the virus.

As a reminder, the Bahamian government’s new entry requirements for visitors, which came into effect on September 1st. 2020, include:

  • Negative COVID-19 PCR Test Results no more than seven days prior to travel to The Bahamas
  • Upon receipt of your COVID-19 test results, travelers must submit them at https://travel.gov.bs/international in order to receive a Bahamas Travel Health Visa, which will be issued shortly after the submission of test results
  • Valid Passport
  • Bahamas Travel Health Visa – the cost will be determined by the length of stay
  • Mandatory “Vacation in Place” (VIP) – for 14 days or until November 1st – at a hotel, private club or rented accommodations (like Airbnb), as well as on a private boat.

The only applicants who are not required to provide a COVID-19 test are:

  • Children under the age of ten (10)
  • Pilots and crew who remain overnight in The Bahamas.

In addition to the above protocols, a rapid antigen test will be conducted upon arrival, and then again four days (96 hours) after arrival in The Bahamas. The rapid tests are quick and easy with the results being provided electronically in less than 20 minutes. All visitors who are leaving on “Day Five” of their visit will not be required to take the second test.  The cost of the rapid tests on and after arrival will be included in the cost of the visa.

All persons arriving by yachts or other pleasure crafts will be able to make arrangements for their mandatory rapid tests at the port of entry.

It is recommended that all travelers interested in visiting The Bahamas review requirements applicable to each member of their party at Bahamas.com/travelupdates before booking a trip, to determine what steps need to be taken to be granted entry.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Destination News

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Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals Offers Guests a Festive Treat

(Virgin Gorda, BVI) October 7th, 2020:  Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals welcomes the news of the reopening of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to visitors on December 1st and to celebrate, the villa rentals and management company is excited to offer guests a special festive treat.

From December 15th, visitors to Virgin Gorda staying at one the 20 villas managed by Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals (the oldest and most experienced villa management company on the island) can choose to have their villa beautifully decorated with a complimentary Christmas tree and will receive a holiday amenity featuring locally made culinary treats. The concierge team will work with each guest on their tree theme preference. In addition, guests can enjoy a festive prix fixe dinner menu at the fine dining Restaurant at the Leverick Bay Resort, Spa and Marina located in North Sound, home to a selection of over 180 wine varieties and over 2,000 bottles, and special package prices on spa treatments.

“We understand and are sensitive to the current climate and we want our guests to feel ultra-special as well as safe and comfortable when they stay in our villas,” stated Sharon Flax-Brutus, Director of Operations for the company.  The team has used the last six months to develop and test the Covid-19 health and safety protocols which have been approved by the BVI Environmental Unit and spent time in training. “Everything is in place to welcome guests and as our villas offer large open-air spaces, lots of privacy, stunning beach front locations or breathtaking ocean views they are perfect for couples, families and small groups. We are looking forward to that day.” Full details of our Covid-19 health and safety protocols are available on our website.

Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals is happy to introduce another amenity to its service offering, a tennis pro who will be available to play with and teach our villa guests. Arthur Hicks is the former coach at Necker Island Resort and has played in multiple championships in the US and UK.

Travelers can check villa availability on our website or book through their preferred travel advisor. Updates and information on vgvirgingordavillarentals.com. Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram @virgingordavillarentals

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog

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Aruba’s Online ED Card, mitigating the crisis concerns on the island

The COVID-19 crisis proves that automation is of huge importance now more than ever. With many restrictions being lifted and borders re-opening, the travel industry and governments are ready to implement new measures and strict rules that travelers should adhere to. An online ED card or tourism card is one of the tools being used by most governments in order to gather valuable information beforehand of the incoming travelers.

Gamma IT Solutions, an Aruban based software development company, is the developer of Aruba’s Online ED card (www.edcardaruba.aw), which is a full-fledged and fully automated Immigration Platform. The Online ED Card is making it possible for the concerned Aruban authorities to implement the first filters in pre-screening future travelers to Aruba and making it possible to re-open Aruba’s borders again.

The Online ED Card or tourism card as developed by Gamma IT Solutions is an important tool for the government of any country looking to gather valuable data beforehand of the incoming travelers. Given that each country determines their own safety measures, one of the best features of the Online ED Card is that it is fully customizable to meet the requirements and policies of each country.

The Online ED Card of Aruba has thus far been able to gather valuable data with regards to health concerns of the Aruban government such as:

  • The introduction of health related questions on the Immigration Platform as the first line of defense for denying travelers wanting to visit Aruba that have COVID related symptoms;
  • The possibility to upload a negative Corona test within 72 hours before arriving on Aruba to allow healthy travelers to visit Aruba;
  • Offering an integrated payment solution within the Immigration Platform allowing future travelers to Aruba to pay for the mandatory Aruba COVID insurance and pre-pay for a test to be conducted upon arrival in Aruba;
  • An automated check and filter for travelers coming from risk states within the USA requiring  them to upload a negative PCR test before flying to Aruba;
  • An automated check and filter for denying travelers flying in from countries of which Aruba has closed its borders to;
  • An integrated solution with the Health Department where the Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) made it possible that all health-related information is collected by the Immigration Platform and provided to health department to examine future visitors upfront.

Gamma IT Solutions, also being the developer of RADEX BCMS, the Border Control Management System of Aruba, has made it possible to integrate all the information gathered by the Online ED Card into the RADEX BCMS database. The authorized government entities in charge will be able to look up the data and have the current and accurate information about the travelers entering and leaving the country.

In terms of Border Control Management, the Online ED Card has made it possible to make the Immigration Platform mandatory for all travelers. This has eliminated the use of the physical ED card which immediately leads to:

  • No more scanning of the physical ED cards by Immigration Officers which reduces the processing time of travelers by 40%;
  • Airlines do not have to purchase the physical ED cards anymore; this is very environmentally friendly;
  • Cleaner data, which improves the overall quality of RADEX BCMS data and tourism data.

Like Aruba, many countries are putting their own safety measures and policies in place in order to re-open their borders. One of the many advantages of having a border control management system as RADEX BCMS, is that it can be integrated with any online ED Card and/or tourism card of any country.

So far, the automation of the Online ED Card has also brought many benefits for the local authorities of Aruba. By having the data on-hand, before the travelers arrive in Aruba, authorities are able to make better arrangements to accommodate the number of travelers.

This includes arrangements related to:

  • Staffing of immigration personnel;
  • Staffing of airport personnel;
  • Taxi’s
  • Etc.

An Online ED Card or tourism card can have many benefits for any country. It is equally important to have a Border Control Management System such as RADEX BCMS in place, which allows the systems to interact and provide valuable information to all relevant authorities. RADEX BCMS is a complete Border Control Management System with the latest hard- and software for multi-biometric capture and search capabilities. The key features of RADEX include first-stage processing, which involves checks against stolen passport databases, multiple wanted lists, and any other database a country desires; second-stage processing, which includes multi-biometric search and enrollment; reporting; security; and administration.

When these two measures (Online ED Card/Tourism Card and a border control system) are combined, it will expedite the work of many government entities pursuing to assure the safety and security of not only the incoming travelers, but especially that of their citizens.


Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Destination News

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