A recent decision by the Canadian Government is causing headaches for some Caribbean tourism destinations.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the representative body for the region’s tourism sector, is asking Canada to reconsider new pandemic testing rules.
That the CHTA says the decision will strain already stressed Caribbean public health systems and cause further damage to the region’s economy.
From January 7, Canada requires all of its residents as well as all travellers entering from the Caribbean to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test before their planned departure to Canada.
“On behalf of the CHTA … we respectfully request reconsideration of this policy for the Caribbean,” CHTA said in a submission to Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau and shared with Canadian High Commissions and Consulates across the region.
“This policy is creating challenges and places even greater economic hardship on the people and governments of the Caribbean and on the thousands of Canadians currently in the Caribbean who are scheduled to return home in the coming weeks,” said CHTA’s acting chief executive officer and Director General Vanessa Ledesma.
According to the regional tourism body, the policy has resulted in a rash of cancellations by Canadians who were scheduled to visit several Caribbean countries. Ledesma said the move would damage already fragile businesses and economies.
“As the policy takes effect, we anticipate many stranded Canadians being unable to return home due to their inability to get tests in the required time,” she stressed.
The CHTA head said she understood the policy was intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
She added: “Our commitment to the health and safety of residents and travellers is best demonstrated by the COVID-19 protocols and containment measures which are in place throughout the Caribbean, and the thousands of tourism employees who have undergone health safety training conducted by CHTA and its health safety partners, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).”
Ledesma added that this was further reinforced by the low tourism-related transmission rates in the region.
CHTA noted the region’s success in maintaining one of the lowest incident rates of COVID-19 in the world, is largely because of the stringent health, safety and testing measures, which are in place, thanks to the leadership of many Caribbean Heads of Government, and the strong partnerships between the health and tourism sectors. (IMC1)