Reopening of Caribbean Tourism and Travel

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Are you ready for the reopening of Caribbean tourism and travel? Here is what we are doing in the region to keep travellers and service providers safe.

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation and its affiliates and partners have been closely monitoring and actively planning their approaches for the reopening of Caribbean tourism and travel. Guidelines, checklists and travel protocols for all tourism sub-sectors were created to effectively support the reopening of Caribbean tourism establishments.

Travel Protocols for Safe Entry into the Caribbean

Destinations have issued travel protocols for safe entry into region. Before planning your trip to the region, please review the specific travel protocols outlined for your country of choice. Destinations require travellers to obtain  tests for COVID-19 prior to travel and present valid negative test results in order to gain entry.

CARPHA Guidelines and Criteria

Now that Caribbean countries have eased their travel restrictions and flights are resuming, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has issued several health guidelines for partners in the tourism and hospitality sectors. These guidelines will also be supported by specific criteria which all destinations should adopt. These will provide support to the partners and by ensuring the health and safety of residents and guests who patronise them.

The guidelines are based on six principles which will inform COVID-19 protocols and measures implemented by the individual Caribbean destinations and tourism service providers.

The guidelines as outlined by the CTO are:

  1. Lift Travel Restrictions in accordance with WHO Criteria and CARICOM Common Protocol;
  2. Build Consumer Confidence by establishing Healthy Practices in the Destination;
  3. Reconfigure Hospitality Businesses to follow Social Distancing and other Health Safety Practices;
  4. Institute Proactive COVID-19 Traveler’s Health Practices;
  5. Heighten Public Education and Communication for Employees and Visitors; and
  6. Sustain Permanent Partnerships among State and Non-State Actors on the Value Chain.

The six key criteria which support these guidelines also outlined by the CTO are:

  1. Low levels of COVID-19 incidence: This is the main pre-requisite for resuming tourism activities in any destination;
  2. Health system capacity: The tourism sector must assess availability of and access to sufficient health care;
  3. Surveillance and monitoring capacity: Systems must be in place to monitor and respond to changes in indicators of health service capacity;
  4. Testing capacity: A pivotal criterion in the restart and continued operation of tourism activities is testing to detect cases, monitor the spread of the virus and to slow down or impede transmission;
  5. Contact tracing is available: Contact tracing is an effective and essential public health measure for the control of COVID-19;
  6. Coordination and communication mechanisms: Coordination and communication between and among tourism stakeholders is necessary.

Guidelines for Caribbean Tourism Sub-Sectors

The specific guidelines for tourism sub-sectors, are applicable to operators in:

  • Ground transportation;
  • Accommodation;
  • Food and beverage;
  • Recreation and entertainment including sites and attractions;
  • Meetings, conference and events;
  • Tourism services;
  • Retailers; vendors and public markets.

The requirements stipulate that the guidelines may be altered to better serve the size of the location, number of staff and the nature of the service provided.

The below health safety measures which were developed to protect against COVID-19, must be incorporated into the regular operations of the sub-sectors.

1. Physical Distancing

If staff, guests, and patrons will be gathered for longer than 15 minutes, a distance of 5 to 6 feet must be maintained except for people travelling together. There may also be protocols outlining how many people are allowed in one space at any time. If it is not possible to maintain the recommended distances,

2. Infection Prevention and Control

To reduce chances of infection, use personal protective measures. Respiratory etiquette, which includes coughing and sneezing into tissues; hand hygiene which refers to washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or using alcohol-based sanitizers; and the use of a face coverings including masks and shields offer additional layers of protection.

3. Screening and Temperature Checks

Screening questions may be used to ascertain if staff and guests are exhibiting known symptoms or if they were in contact with confirmed or suspected cases. Temperature checks should be conducted with no-touch thermometers. Persons with recorded temperatures of over 38 degrees Celsius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should be examined by a medical professional.

4. Monitoring, Rapid Response and Contact Tracing

If there are changes, the service provider must escalate and alert the local authorities immediately. Contract measures should also be enforced so that tracing can be initiated in the event of a confirmed case. Contact details for all employees, guests, and visitors must be provided. In the event of a COVID-19 case, implement the CDC’s five step process (Inform-Isolate-Trace-Clean-Report).

5. Supplies

Strict protocols also govern the process of receiving supplies. Delivery personnel must:

  • Wear face coverings;
  • Undergo temperature checks;
  • Practice hand hygiene;
  • Practice cough etiquette.

Contact the authorities if a delivery person is suspected of COVID-19 infection. Keep delivery areas clean and sanitise delivery receiving areas after each delivery.

Reopening of Caribbean Tourism and Travel

As you can see, our tourism stakeholders are working hard to keep all visitors and staff safe. The success of COVID-19 protection protocols is dependent on a management operation that leads by action; capable and trained staff; adequate communication and information sharing; the implementation of new technology and digitization; and the evaluation of measures and adjustments where necessary.

Reference: Caribbean Tourism Organisation: Guidelines and Checklists for Safely Resuming Business Operations and Restoring Caribbean Tourism in 2020