As Barbados slowly reopens its economy for the conduct of full business activity in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a former Central Bank Governor has proposed new guidelines for the revival of travel and tourism here.
In his June Economic Letter released this weekend, Dr DeLisle Worrell suggested that the faster route is for collaboration between Barbados and other regional governments and hotels, airlines and other tourism interests and their representative bodies, under the auspices of the United Nations and its agencies, led by the World Health Organization.
“The essential element needed for the revival of travel and tourism is restoration of confidence of visitors that their health is protected while they enjoy a pleasurable holiday. Tourists must first be able to travel and socialize safely within their own countries, and then they must be assured that they can travel and socialize in the Caribbean as safely as they can at home,” said Dr Worrell, who presided over the Barbados Central Bank from November 2009 to February 2017.
He added: “This is a very tall order, but it is the challenge for countries everywhere, not just for tourism or tourist destinations. The same protocols, which will allow for the resumption of spectator sports, political rallies, religious gatherings, weddings, concerts, festivals and other large gatherings, will suffice for the revival of tourism.”
The immediate past governor of the Central Bank said, however, that none of the measures, which are currently being taken for the re-opening involves the collaboration of all the relevant international players.
Dr Worrell, who founded the Research Department of the bank in 1973, pointed out that Caribbean economies are all looking to re-open to visitors in the coming weeks and months, and Antigua, Aruba, the Bahamas and others have already set target dates.
He noted that some hotels, which had closed, have announced dates for re-opening, with new arrangements in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, and international airlines have cautiously begun to resume flights, with reduced seating and special precautions to protect the health of travellers.
Now an international economic consultant, Dr Worrell said the Caribbean should mobilize to promote dialogue through its regional bodies, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Travel Association (CHTA).
“Our leaders have to accept that it is not within the capacity of Caribbean countries to restore the trust of visitors. The things that the Caribbean must do to restore confidence will become clear when practices are in place to allow people to mingle freely, to use all forms of public transport without physical distancing, to dispense with the use of masks and other protective gear, and to attend social gatherings, large and small,” suggested the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) Specialist in Monetary Policy, Financial Stability and Stress Testing in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
“The “new normal” will be revealed when the regular American football season resumes with full spectator participation and no adverse health consequences. Only then will Barbados, Jamaica, the Bahamas and the rest of the Caribbean have clear guidance on the measures that will suffice to restore visitor confidence,” Dr Worrell declared. (EJ)