The Caribbean COVID-19 Tourism Task Force is calling for continued diligence and adherence to public health safety protocols and encourages all tourism-related stakeholders who are able to do so to be vaccinated as vaccines become available.
The Caribbean has generally been successful in containing the virus over the past year to levels below that which is being experienced in many parts of the world. COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death rates are among the lowest in the world. This has been attributed to the early and ongoing response by many Caribbean governments, health care and tourism industry leaders, and the large number of Caribbean residents who have adhered to health safety protocols.
The task force cautions that now is not the time to “let down our guard”, as the next several months will determine how quickly the tourism-dependent region will be able to rebound. Tourism is viewed by many as the catalyst for getting people back to work and restoring much needed revenue that governments have lost due to the pandemic.
“We are now in a race against time,” cautioned 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,” she stated.
“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,” she advised, speaking on behalf of the Task Force.
The Task Force also urged all members of the public who are able to do so to become vaccinated once they become available and they are eligible. Data overwhelmingly supports the safety of World Health Organization (WHO)-approved vaccines.
The Task Force was established over a year ago to develop and collaborate on strategies and programs aimed at helping to share information; 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.
Through the agency’s efforts, more than 5,000 hotels and tourism-related managers and supervisors have undergone CARPHA-led health safety training, which has reached thousands more who have been trained by the initial graduates. The Task Force member organizations include CARPHA, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the Jamaica-based Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center (GTRCMC).
For information about vaccines and health safety protocols, visit www.carpha.org.
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 and the region's private sector. 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 organization 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 18, 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 currently has 11 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.