The Caribbean Islands Beckon

The Caribbean awaits. That was the message shared by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in November, which serves as Caribbean Tourism Month. The marketing campaign intended to showcase the Caribbean’s prominence as a place of solace as COVID-19 continues to impact the global travel and tourism industry. 

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Neil Walters, the CTO’s acting secretary general, said: “Caribbean countries have taken the required steps to protect our citizens and residents, conducted the required training to prepare our tourism and related frontline workers for the return of visitors and put the health protocols in place to reassure our potential visitors and residents that we take their health seriously. This has been the groundwork, and now we seek to rebuild the sector.”

So, if you’re looking for some solace, here’s what you need to know:

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Anguilla

Anguilla’s Phase Two reopening to international travelers began on November 1 with the introduction of the vacation bubble concept, designed to allow properties to safely offer their short stay guests access to a variety of approved amenities, services and activities while they stay in place.

All visitors are welcome in Phase Two, provided that they meet the pre-entry approval requirements. These include a negative PCR test, taken within three to five days of arrival; medical insurance that covers the cost of COVID-19-related treatment for 30 days; and payment of fees, which vary depending on the proposed length of stay. 

The Hon. Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism Quincia Gumbs Marie said in a press statement: “In preparation for our Phase Two reopening, we have offered free training courses to over 500 tourism employers — from housekeepers to ground transportation and charter boat operators — and over 100 business establishments have been ‘Safe Environment Certified.’”

Visitors to Anguilla may now indulge in dining out at certified “bubble” restaurants; a round of golf; scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and glass-bottomed boat rides; outdoor yoga, select outdoor and indoor fitness activities; and offshore cay excursions to Sandy Island, Scilly Cay and Prickly Pear, including private lunches. Advance reservations are required for all activities, with transportation provided by a certified ground operator. 

On November 15, the sea shuttle services from the St. Maarten-Anguilla Ferry Terminal, located across from the Princess Juliana Airport, will once again operate into the Blowing Point Ferry Terminal on Anguilla. Calypso Chatters, Funtime Charters and GB Express are among the certified and approved companies authorized to resume the 25-minute private and semi-private shuttle services between Sint Maarten and Anguilla. 

Many of Anguilla’s villas opened in Phase One, and more have come on stream in Phase Two. Anguilla’s resorts reopened in Phase Two, starting with Belmond Cap Juluca, Frangipani Beach Resort and Tranquility Beach Anguilla. At press time, they were to be followed by the CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa on November 14, the Four Seasons Resort & Residences and the Quintessence Hotel on November 19, Zemi Beach House, LXR Hotels & Resorts on December 14 and Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection on December 17. 

Select properties in the Charming Escapes Collection, including Carimar Beach Club, Shoal Bay Villas, Meads Bay Villas and La Vue, are also open and accepting guests. The full list of certified and approved properties, which is constantly updated, can be found at the Anguilla Tourist Board website. A complete list of bars, restaurants, and lively hangouts is also posted on the site, and updated weekly as additional establishments become certified. 

At press time, according to the Anguilla Tourist Board, there were still no active or suspected cases on the island. To ensure that this remains the case, the three-testing protocol remains in place. The island has significantly increased its national testing capacity, and test results are available within two hours.  A second test will be administered on Day 10 of their visit, for visitors originating from low-risk countries (i.e. where the virus prevalence is less than 0.2 percent) and on Day 14 for guests arriving from higher-risk countries. Once a negative result is returned after the second test, guests are then free to explore the island.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas has revised its entry protocols, including replacing the mandatory “vacation-in-place.” The Bahamas now requires all travelers to: Obtain a COVID-19 RT PCR test five days prior to arrival; apply for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa at travel.gov.bs; complete a daily online health questionnaire for symptom tracking purposes; take a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test on Day 5 of the visit (unless departing on Day 5); and always wear a mask and always social distance in public places.

Note: Regarding COVID testing, the name and address of the lab and where the test was performed must be clearly displayed on the test result. Children age 10 and under are exempt from needing a test prior to arrival. Once in possession of a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result, travelers must apply for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa at travel.gov.bs (click on the International tab and upload test results and other required documents).

In addition, visitors are required to opt-in to mandatory COVID-19 health insurance when applying for their Health Travel Visa. The insurance will cover travelers for the duration of their stay in the Bahamas. 

Any visitor who exhibits COVID symptoms at any time during their stay must take a Rapid Antigen Test and receive a negative result before being permitted to continue with their vacation. If a person tests positive, they will be required to follow up with a COVID-19 RT-PCR swab test. 

All persons who are staying in the Bahamas longer than four nights/five days will be required to take a rapid COVID-19 antigen test. The rapid tests yield results in 60 minutes or less with results being provided electronically via SMS text message and email.

The Bahamas has revised its entry protocols, including replacing the mandatory “vacation-in-place.” // Photo by Henrik Landfors/Getty Images

Hotels will provide relevant information on testing arrangements, while others will facilitate the required rapid test for their guests. In addition, all persons on yachts and other pleasure craft will be able to make arrangements for their required rapid tests at the port of entry or via the relevant website. All other visitors, returning residents and citizens can make arrangements for their required rapid tests at the port of entry or via the relevant website.

Notwithstanding any health restrictions that may be implemented from time to time, all travelers abiding by these new protocols will be permitted to move about beyond the confines of their hotel or other accommodations.

Curacao

In October, Curacao reopened, allowing a maximum of 20,000 passengers, so that there would be minimal pressure on the local health system. Residents from the New York Tri-State area (also including New Jersey and Connecticut) and Florida are able to visit the island. Prior to arrival, visitors from these states will be required to present a state-issued ID as proof of residency in addition to the below mentioned three steps.

Before departure, travelers have to take these two mandatory steps on www.dicardcuracao.com: (1) Complete the digital immigration card online before departure at dicardcuracao.com; and (2) Within 48 hours before departure, digitally fill out the Passenger Locator Card and carry a printed document of proof with them. 

Each visitor entering Curacao will need to show a negative result from a certified COVID-19 PCR-test (note that PCR tests based on gargle samples will not be accepted) and carry a printed document of proof with them. The test must be taken a maximum of 72 hours prior to departure at an accredited laboratory. You may contact your general practitioner for a referral to the nearest institution. You will be required to upload the negative test results of the COVID-19 PCR-test on dicardcuracao.com before departure.

Regardless if you are traveling from a low-risk or medium-risk country these general requirements will apply:

  • You have not traveled to another country where there is a high-risk of COVID-19 infections or have been in contact with a person who tested positively for COVID-19 within 14 days prior to arrival. If this is the case, you will be placed in mandatory quarantine.
  • You must carry a printed document of proof of the mandatory steps at all times during your travel.
  • You must be adequately insured for medical care and any additional costs if you are quarantined or become ill during your stay.
  • No cruise passengers are currently admitted.
  • If you do not meet the above conditions, you may be quarantined on arrival entirely at your own expense.

Jamaica

“Jamaica Cares” is a traveler protection and emergency services program set to launch in December. It will provide visitors access to emergency medical and crisis response services for events up to and including natural disasters. The program is a public-private partnership administered by the Global Tourism Resilience Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC), with support from the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council, Global Rescue, and leading international and national insurance companies. 

For less than $50, “Jamaica Cares” provides visitors access to compulsory traveler protection and emergency medical services, including: 

  • Case management, transport logistics, field rescue, evacuation and repatriation for medical emergencies, including COVID-19, and other crises up to and including natural disasters 
  • International health coverage up to $100,000 for visitors traveling to and from Jamaica 
  • On-island health coverage up to $50,000

“Jamaica Cares,” the GTRCMC says, sets the gold standard for tourism by combining Global Rescue’s emergency services with domestic and international travel medical insurance. 

Tourists will be provided with an information package and emergency contact details as they conclude their application for permission to travel to Jamaica. The fee will be included as part of the country’s “Travel Authorization” application on www.visitjamaica.com, triggering automatic participation in the “Jamaica Cares” program. Participation is mandatory for all non-Jamaican passport holders. 

An international traveler sentiment survey, conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, revealed safety is paramount in making travel decisions for which consumers are willing to pay. A Global Rescue survey of more than 2,200 frequent travelers found they agreed by wide margins (90-plus percent) they would feel safer if they — and all travelers — had services and protections for medical emergencies, including COVID-19, and door-to-door travel insurance. 

Curacao reopened in October, allowing a maximum of 20,000 passengers. // Photo by Getty Images

St. Kitts and Nevis

The Nevis Tourism Authority (NTA) has announced a phased reopening of the island to international travelers will start October 31, 2020. Visitors must observe strict entry requirement protocols, designed by the twin-island federation of St. Kitts & Nevis to protect the health and safety of citizens, residents and guests.

International travelers from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Europe, Africa, South America and everyone traveling from outside of the CARICOM member states, must complete the Entry Form on the federal website (www.covid19.gov.kn), submit a negative PCR test completed within 72 hours of travel from an accredited laboratory, undergo a health screening at the airport and download the SKN COVID-19 contact tracing mobile app (to be used for the first 14 days of travel or fewer).

During their first week on island, visitors are required to vacation in place at their hotel property, where they may interact with other guests and partake in hotel activities. Those staying longer will be required to undergo a PCR-test at their expense on Day 7 of their visit. Once the traveler tests negative on Day 7, they are allowed, through the hotel’s tour desk, to book select excursions. Visitors staying longer will be required to undergo a second PCR-test on Day 14, at their expense; if they test negative, the traveler will be allowed to freely explore the island and mingle with the local population.

The Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the Oualie Beach Resort are the approved hotels for international travelers in this first phase. With the start of American Airlines service from Miami and British Airways service from London Gatwick into St. Kitts on November 7, visitors will have access to Nevis, via a 10-minute water taxi ride. Cape Air is expected to resume service from San Juan directly into Nevis’ Vance W. Armory Airport on November 20.

Stakeholders in every sector of the industry have been trained in health and safety protocols by the NTA and the Nevis Ministry of Health, just one component of a multi-faceted Health Campaign currently underway. Stakeholders who have completed the training, and businesses that have been inspected and meet the “Travel Approved” criteria, receive a seal that signifies they’ve been trained. Note: Masks are required whenever the visitor is outside of their hotel room.

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