The Caribbean’s COVID-19 Tourism Task Force is urging the region to continue to be diligent in its health and safety protocols and to drive local vaccinations.
Those two objectives are the key to a regional tourism recovery, the task force said this week.
The Caribbean has largely been successful in containing the virus in the last year, with regional levels below much of the rest of the world.
Indeed, Caribbean levels of infection, hospitalization and death rates are among the lowest on earth.
“We are now in a race against time,” said Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director for the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). “Particularly given the presence of variants which spread more rapidly, we must adhere to health safety protocols lest we find ourselves moving backwards, rather than forwards. We must remain diligent while we continue to accelerate vaccinations of our populations, now that approved vaccines are becoming more available.”
The COVID-19 Tourism Task Force was set up to develop strategies and programs to help the region “develop health safety protocols and guidelines for the tourism industry to protect employees and travelers; conduct health safety training; monitor and minimize COVID-19 incidents in the tourism industry; and advocate for sound health safety practices and the harmonization of said practices,” according to the body.
Through the task force’s efforts, more than 5,000 hotels and executives have undergone health safety training.
““We urge countries to continue to intensify their surveillance activities to rapidly screen, identify, test, quarantine, isolate and trace contacts of new cases; and for every resident and visitor to the Caribbean to do their part through physical/social distancing, wearing of masks, and practicing proper hand hygiene,” St. John said.
The task force consists of the CARPHA, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the Jamaica-based Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center.
The first Caribbean destinations began reopening for tourism in June 2020; now nearly every destination in the wider region is open to visitors.