Local and regional firms in the tourism industry have another avenue through which they can gain recognition as they seek to lure more visitors and revive the struggling industry.
With the tourism-dependent Caribbean countries still reeling from the effects of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, officials of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in association with several of its tourism industry partners, have introduced a programme that would see participating firms getting a stamp of approval as safe for tourists to visit.
On Thursday, CARPHA launched the Caribbean Travellers Health Assurance Stamp and the Caribbean Travellers Health (CariTrvHealth) mobile application under its regional Tourism and Health Programme (THP), which was introduced in 2014 to respond to health threats that impact the tourism sector.
Executive Director of CARPHA Dr Joy St John said she was proud the THP would help “light the way back to economic recovery for our beautiful corner of the world”.
“While the heads of governments have led an all-out society approach to learning how to live safely with COVID-19 as one of the most tourism-dependent region in the world, that must include a safe return to economic activity through a safe return to tourism,” she told the virtual launching ceremony.
“So, CARPHA has built a suite of measures on the foundation of the THP which includes a real-time monitoring and response system; guidelines for COVID-19 health measures and training in these guidelines and protocols; operational health and environmental standards; and today, we launch the Caribbean Health Assurance Stamp for healthier safer tourism and the Caribbean Travellers Health mobile app as CARPHA’s contribution to the regional armour to mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” she said.
The programme comes as fresh studies show that travellers are more concerned about health and safety within a destination when they are planning a trip.
Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Frank Comito said he was confident the region was making every effort to provide assurances to visitors that destinations are safe.
Pointing to research conducted several weeks ago by a global travel firm, among travel agents and other travel partners, he said the main question was “what are clients’ top considerations when considering a destination today?”.
“Overwhelmingly, 74 per cent cited having a destination health safety certification as their top consideration. The second highest consideration, from 60 per cent of the respondents, was with knowing and agreeing with the destination’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, getting that communication, information and assurance that the destination is handling health and safety matters effectively,” Comito said.
Officials are hoping the assurance stamp would provide that added guarantee when people are travelling to Caribbean destinations.
To qualify for the assurance stamp, the hospitality facilities must participate in the COVID-19 health guidance for reopening tourism training, and ten per cent of all staff, including senior management, must attend and be certified.
The organisation must be a registered user of the Tourism and Health Information System (THiS), and must report for at least a month before being eligible to receive the stamp.
Once the firm has been awarded the assurance stamp, it will be listed in the ‘Healthier, Safer Tourism’ tab of the CariTrvHealth mobile app, which officials are hoping can be used as another form of marketing.
Anyone will be able to download the app on their mobile device and see the firms that are identified with the stamp of approval.
The app will also provide travel health information on each destination, alerts, tips on proactive and prevention measures, helping the traveller to have a safer trip.
During the launch, industry officials said it was critical that the region continue to inspire confidence in potential travellers in an effort to boost the tourism industry.