Caribbean countries are looking at new rules for visitors as member countries increase their vaccination rates.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization held a Facebook Live event on Wednesday to highlight COVID-19 responses from Anguilla, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Dominica and St. Kitts & Nevis.
Haydn Hughes, Minister of Tourism for Anguilla, said there hasn’t been any community spread on the island since March of last year, which has allowed them to go ahead with festivals and other events, albeit in altered form.
“If you’re in Anguilla you feel as if there’s no COVID in the rest of the world, because we have no restrictions whatsoever.”
All but one of the major hotels are open but there are protocols in place, including tests before you fly, tests upon arrival and then move around in a bubble and check out restaurants with certified ground transportation.
Hughes said changes to Anguilla’s COVID-19 protocols should be announced next week.
Hughes said more than one-half of Anguillans have been vaccinated against the virus and that the island has even used travelling vans that give people vaccinations by the side of the road.
New protocols should be announced next week, and then perhaps again by the end of July, when Anguilla hopes to have 75% of its residents vaccinated. The plan is for visitors to have “unfettered access” with no restrictions later in the year, he said.
Denise Charles, Minister of Tourism for Dominica, said her island also is looking at new rules in the new future, but that they need more people vaccinated.
Getting tourism back is essential to the Caribbean, panellists said during the Wednesday chat. Lindsay Grant, Minister of Tourism for St. Kitts and Nevis, said tourism accounts for 60% of his country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Grant said St. Kitts and Nevis have had a “vacation in place” program running since they reopened for visitors on October 31 of last year. The rules require a visitor to spend their first seven days of vacation at a certified hotel. After seven days they take a COVID-19 test and, if negative, can take part in limited tours and excursions.
Carlos James, Minister of Tourism for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said arrivals from January to October of 2020 were down almost 50%. The yachting sector has been especially hard hit, as has the cruise industry.
“We remain resilient and we’re trying out best to cope,” he said.