Caribbean Unveils Initiatives to Support Reopening Tourism

MIAMI (July 4, 2020) – The Caribbean’s health and tourism authorities’ COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force announced a new initiative to help safeguard the health of travelers and employees during a recent virtual press conference, unveiling comprehensive health safety guidelines supported by an aggressive training schedule aimed at reaching thousands of the region’s tourism employees in the coming weeks and months.

The initial set of guidelines includes detailed checklists backed by health safety training for various tourism industry sectors, including ground transportation, accommodation providers, food and beverage, and attractions. General health safety protocols have also been created and will be supported with training delivered by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to a wide cross section of employees and owners in the tourism industry.

Companies in the region which participate in the training will be recognized, and accommodation providers which also join CARPHA’s online Tourism Health Information System (THiS) will be eligible to receive the Caribbean Travel Health Assurance (CTHA) Stamp , adding further assurance to travelers about their commitment to health safety.

Building upon a unique partnership established over five years ago by CARPHA and the region’s public and private sector tourism stakeholders, and recognizing the severe negative impact which COVID-19 could have on the tourism-dependent economies of the region, CARPHA, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) started working on COVID-19 preventative and education initiatives early in February.

This led to the formalization of the COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force a month later between CARPHA, CTO and CHTA, and later joined by the Jamaica-based Global Tourism Resiliency and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Commission (OECSC).

Not intended to replace specific national and territorial guidelines, or those being put in place by specific hotels and the industry, the procedures serve to reinforce and complement existing policies which have been drawn up to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The initiative has also been put in place to provide support particularly for the independent hotels, tourism-related businesses, and smaller destinations which lack the expertise or resources to develop their own.

The task force undertook a review, which engaged a cross representation of Caribbean tourism stakeholders, of health safety protocols and guidelines for tourism protocols issued by a range of destinations, industry enterprises, and regional agencies and are further synced with global protocols, including those of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

“We started working with this (initiative) in January with the Member States and we have been leading the regional health response in this matter of COVID-19. Public health is our mandate, and in looking at how we can ensure we open up to tourism safely, we had guidance from not only our own technical sources but also the guidance and the wisdom of those in the field,” said Dr. Joy St. John, CARPHA’s Executive Director.

The leadership of both CHTA and CTO expressed their commitment to the engagement of tourism and industry partners in improving and maintaining health and safety standards throughout the region and were thankful for the expertise of the partners in delivering an impressive compilation of protocols.

CHTA CEO Frank Comito and CTO Acting Secretary General Neil Walters expressed that such collaborative partnerships are critical to the sustainability of the tourism sector on which many countries and territories depend for their economic survival.

The task force members agreed that disseminating the guidelines and beginning the essential work of training industry stakeholders while navigating the changing nature of the industry and the global economy were urgent priorities.

Also joining in the launch were Dr. Didicus Jules, Director General for the OECSC; Dr. Lloyd Waller, Executive Director for the GTRCMC; and CHTA President Patricia Affonso-Dass, who each reinforced their support and the importance of the initiative.

For more information on the guidelines and related training sessions, visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.

About the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is the Caribbean’s leading association representing the interests of national hotel and tourism associations. For more than 55 years, CHTA has been the backbone of the Caribbean hospitality industry. Working with some 1,000 hotel and allied members, and 33 National Hotel Associations, CHTA is shaping the Caribbean’s future and helping members to grow their businesses. Whether helping to navigate critical issues in sales and marketing, sustainability, legislative issues, emerging technologies, climate change, data and intelligence or, looking for avenues and ideas to better market and manage businesses, CHTA is helping members on issues which matter most.

For further information, visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.

About the Caribbean Public Health Agency
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is the new single regional public health agency for the Caribbean. It was legally established in July 2011 by an Intergovernmental Agreement signed by Caribbean Member States and began operation in January 2013. The Agency is the Caribbean region’s collective response to strengthening and reorienting its health system approach so that it is equipped to address the changing nature of public health challenges. The approach is people-centered and evidence-informed. For more information visit www.carpha.org.

About the Caribbean Tourism Organization
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), which is headquartered in Barbados, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency, comprising membership of the region’s finest countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish-speaking, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. The CTO’s vision is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year-round, warm weather destination, and its purpose is Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean. Among the benefits to its members the organisation provides specialized support and technical assistance in sustainable tourism development, marketing, communications, advocacy, human resource development, event planning & execution, and research & information technology. For more information, visit www.OneCaribbean.org.

About the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an international organisation dedicated to economic harmonisation and integration, protection of human and legal rights, and the encouragement of good governance among independent and non-independent countries in the Eastern Caribbean. The OECS came into being on June 18th 1981, when seven Eastern Caribbean countries signed a treaty agreeing to cooperate with each other while promoting unity and solidarity among its Members. The Treaty became known as the Treaty of Basseterre, so named in honour of the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis where it was signed. The OECS today, currently has eleven members, spread across the Eastern Caribbean, comprising Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and The Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Martinique and Guadeloupe. For more information, visit www.oecs.int.

About the Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre
The vision of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre is to assist global tourism destinations with destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods globally. For more information, visit www.gtrcmc.org.

 

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Bahamas Launches “The Islands of the Bahamas” App

NASSAU, Bahamas, July 02, 2020 – The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation’s new, free mobile app provides an easy to use resource and tool for consumers planning a visit to The Islands Of The Bahamas. Key features of the app include: downloadable island guides, flight charter request processing and recommendations based on the user’s geo-location within The Bahamas. It also highlights current deals, Bahamas.com blog posts, an interactive map and suggests top activities for adventure, relaxation and romance.

Downloadable Island Guides

The Bahamas consists of 16 major islands, each offering a unique, tropical experience, from the luxury of Nassau Paradise Island to the seclusion of the Out Islands. “The Islands Of The Bahamas” mobile app features downloadable island guides for each that include details and booking resources for hotels, activities, events and transportation. They also highlight current weather and must-experience destinations and activities on each island.

 Flight Charter Request

With over 700 islands and cays, The Bahamas is a prime island hopping destination. And, with “The Islands Of The Bahamas” mobile app, it’s easier than ever to charter inter-island flights. App users select group size, where they are traveling to and from and their travel dates, which is then submitted within the app. Within 24 hours, app users will receive flight confirmation time and the total cost for the group with next steps to finalize the booking.

 Geo-location Capabilities

To support travelers’ interest in discovering local favorites and taking ownership of their itinerary, the mobile app uses geo-location to help visitors discover restaurants, activities, national parks, historical monuments and more close to them. Upon arrival in any of The Bahamas’ 16 major islands, app users can also unlock a geofencing-generated postcard to share with friends and family.

The Islands Of The Bahamas mobile app is free to download on IOS and Android devices.

ABOUT THE BAHAMAS

With over 700 islands and cays and 16 unique island destinations, The Bahamas lies just 55 miles off the coast of Florida, offering an easy fly away escape that transports travelers away from their everyday. The Islands Of The Bahamas have world-class fishing, diving, boating and thousands of miles of the earth’s most spectacular water and beaches waiting for families, couples and adventurers. Explore all the islands have to offer at www.bahamas.com or on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram to see why It’s Better in The Bahamas.

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BTB Prepares Industry to Welcome Back Visitors to Belize

(Belize City, Belize, June 29, 2020) –  The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) last week launched a series of virtual training sessions on the new protocols for Hotels and Restaurants. The 535 tourism stakeholders were introduced to the new protocols which focus on enhanced hotel & restaurant cleaning practices, social interactions, workplace policies and standard operating procedures, while ensuring minimal impact on the guest experience.

As Belize’s tourism industry prepares to re-open, the health, safety, and well-being of the industry, it’s employees, the wider Belizean community, and our guests are more important than ever, as we mitigate the risk of Covid-19. Travelers’ expectations have changed; Belize is proactively adapting to meet these demands while fostering confidence in the cleanliness and safety of our hotels, restaurants and other amenities.

As a follow up to last week’s introductory webinars, further training for the entire industry will be conducted in the coming weeks, which will include specialized training for managers and front line workers in the effective implementation of these new protocols. The upcoming sessions will cover topics such as Program Management, Cleaning Guidelines, and Housekeeping and Laundry Guidelines. In addition, participants will be trained on how to detect COVID-19 symptoms and what to do if an employee or guest is displaying symptoms. All these are being done in anticipation of the reopening of Belize’s international airport, to ensure that the industry is well prepared to welcome back travelers.

The complete Accommodations Protocols can be found at: https://bit.ly/3egSYlz.

 

 

 

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Barbados Reaches COVID-19 Milestone, Flights Resume July 12

On Friday, Prime Minister the Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, announced that Barbados has reached a milestone in its fight against COVID-19. There are no more active cases of COVID-19 in Barbados, and effective July 1, 2020, all curfews will be lifted.

The Prime Minister made the announcement during a press conference at Ilaro Court, flanked by Minister of Health and Wellness, the Hon. Jeffrey Bostic; Minister of Tourism and International Transport, the Hon. Kerrie Symmonds; and Attorney General, the Hon. Dale Marshall. Mottley thanked Bostic and his team of health care workers for their hard work and dedication in leading Barbados to this breakthrough.

“This is testimony to the will, discipline and commitment of Barbadian people… the health authorities, the frontline workers, the essential services, the social partnership, the media, the police, those on the borders, all have been integral to the success we have had thus far in tackling this pandemic. And more so, each and every Bajan in every house and in every community,” Mottley said.

Other relaxed measures announced include physical distancing of three feet, social events with up to 500 patrons, and sporting events with spectators.

Commercial airspace reopens

On the heels of 35 days with no new cases, Mottley shared the good news that commercial flights will resume at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) commencing July 12, 2020 with a twice weekly Air Canada service from Pearson International on Thursdays and Saturdays. On July 18, 2020 British Airways will resume a weekly flight out of London Gatwick; and Jet Blue is tentatively set to return to the island on July 25, 2020 with four weekly flights out of JFK in New York.

“We will continue to take a risk based approach to the protection of our country, our people and our visitors,” she stressed.

Intraregional flights on Caribbean Airlines are expected to resume in mid-July 2020, while Virgin Atlantic’s weekly service from London Heathrow will return on August 1, 2020 and increase in October for the upcoming Winter season. Four days later on August 5, 2020, American Airlines will resume flights out of Miami, Florida.

Health and safety top priority

Minister Symmonds meanwhile outlined the new protocols to ensure the health and safety of both visitors and residents once flights resume.

Within 72 hours prior to departure for Barbados, all travellers from high risk countries are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited laboratory (ISO, CAP, UKAS or equivalent). High risk countries are defined as those with more than 10,000 new cases in the prior seven days and community transmission.

Travellers from low risk countries will have up to one week prior to departure for Barbados to take their tests. Low risk countries are defined as those with less than 100 new cases in the prior seven days and not in the Community Transmission Category.

There will also be a new online Embarkation/ Disembarkation card (ED card), with personal health questions relating to COVID-19 symptoms, which travellers will be required to complete. Once all required steps are completed and supporting documents uploaded, travellers will receive a bar code via email.

On arrival in Barbados, travellers will be required to present evidence of a negative result of a PCR COVID-19 test, and bar code to clear immigration.

Travellers without a documented negative PCR test result from an accredited or recognized laboratory will be required to take a test upon arrival, and will be quarantined at their expense, pending the results. The anticipated wait period for the test results is 48 hours. If travellers fail the test, they will be placed in isolation where they will receive care from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

At the airport, other general public health protocols remain in place including wearing face masks en route to Barbados, physical distancing at three feet, and temperatures checks. 

The future of tourism

As the country gradually reopens, Symmonds shared elements of the Tourism Reboot plan, including satellite entertainment activities in the absence of a formal Crop Over Festival, and the refurbishment of the popular St. Lawrence Gap.

Prime Minister Mottley added that the country will also be encouraging travellers to choose Barbados for extended stays against the new backdrop of remote working. “We want to create an environment that will allow people to come to Barbados to work, to rest and to play from here for an extended period of time during COVID-19. Why? Because we know that this is one of the best places on earth to be and to remain because of the care we will take to protect the people of this nation and those who are here on island with us.”

More updates on Barbados’ response to COVID-19 can be found at https://gisbarbados.gov.bb/covid-19/.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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St. Kitts & Nevis Continues to be Recognized for Successfully Managing COVID-19

Basseterre, St. Kitts (June 29, 2020) – In a video appearing on their social media pages, Tripoto has included St. Kitts & Nevis in its list of “8 Countries that have Beaten CoronaVirus.”  The video states that these countries are now free of the virus with no active cases and have set an example for the rest of the world.

“It is gratifying to be recognized once again for our success in containing and controlling the spread of the virus once it was imported to our shores,” said the Hon. Lindsay F.P Grant, Minister of Tourism & Transport for St. Kitts & Nevis. “This is entirely due to the early and aggressive “All Society Approach” we took at the advisement of our medical experts including mask-wearing in public, social distancing and sanitization protocols to ensure everyone’s health and safety.”

Ms. Racquel Brown, CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, added, “Having now reported no new confirmed cases of the virus in the last 67 days, we are carefully planning for the time when it is deemed safe for people to travel internationally once again.  This new distinction of being one of just eight countries in the world that have, as the video says, ‘won the war’ against the first wave of the virus amplifies our message and helps us spread the word that St. Kitts is a safe, uncrowded and and fun boutique experience for travelers looking ahead to their long-awaited post-pandemic trips.”

The other 7 destinations included in the list were Fiji, Montenegro, the Seychelles, Papua New Guinea, Holy See (Vatican City), and East Timor. To view the video, visit Tripoto’s social media pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  Tripoto is a global community of travelers and platform for travelers from around the world to share and discover real, actionable, crowd-sourced travel stories and itineraries.

St. Kitts & Nevis was the last country in the Americas to confirm a case of the virus and among the first to report all cases having recovered with no deaths resulting from it. While it is the smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere, the Federation has one of the highest testing rates among CARICOM nations and in the Eastern Caribbean and uses only the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test which is the gold standard of testing. St. Kitts & Nevis was also recently lauded for its success in managing the virus by BBC and Sky News.

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