by Marlon Madden
Local tourism officials are warning that Barbados must be placed on the United Kingdom’s “green list” for travel as soon as possible if the island is to cash in on any noticeable uptick in tourism activities this summer.
This comes as officials report continued subdued tourism arrival numbers and visitor spend, which has been the case for the past year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UK remains Barbados’ number one source market for long-stay visitors. Barbados, although having one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates compared to some countries that have made it on to the green list, has been placed on the “amber list” of the UK’s traffic light system for Brits travelling abroad
This means that even if they leave the UK fully vaccinated against the virus, they must take a COVID-19 test here, then pay for two tests on their return and quarantine for ten days.
Some experts have predicted that travel from the UK to countries on the amber and red lists could be dampened as a result. The list was published on May 7 and last updated on Tuesday.
During the Barbados Tourism and Hotel and Association’s (BHTA) annual general meeting on Wednesday, chairman Geoffrey Roach said he was eager to see the island make it to the green list.
Delivering his report, he said the BHTA has sent off a letter outlining its concern and putting forward some recommendations that should help propel the island on to the UK’s green list for travel.
“The BHTA feels very strongly that Barbados needs to get on that [green] list as quickly as possible if we are going to see some benefits through the rest of the year,” said Roach.
“To this end, a letter has been submitted to the Ministry of Tourism in terms of the BHTA concerns and the need to address specific measures to increase Barbados’ likelihood of getting on to the UK’s green list.
What we have done is review the criteria that the UK has identified for the green list and raised those as specific areas as we as a country need to address. I am sure we can improve measures in those areas to increase our likelihood of getting on to the green list,” explained Roach.
Meanwhile, chief executive officer of the BHTA Senator Rudy Grant said he expected with continued easing in travel restrictions in the US, this too should result in an improvement in the island’s tourism arrival numbers in coming months.
“With the easing of that it provides greater opportunity for Barbados to get more visitors coming out of the USA.
I actually think that once we start to see more airplanes in the air we are going to benefit from increased airlift, certainly from the discussions the chairman and I have had with the tour operators, Barbados continues to be the number one sought after Caribbean destination coming out of the UK. So my expectation is that we are going to see increased airlift and the loads are going to be good,” said Grant.
“We do have to be concerned with the variants and we do have to make sure that we continue to follow the guidance with respect to the different protocols by the Ministry of Health – washing of hands, social distancing and sanitising.
It appears COVID-19 will be with us for a while but there is certainly global indication that there are activities coming back again,” said Grant.