The Barbados Hotel Tourism Association (BHTA) is expecting an even larger increase in visitor arrivals with the removal of the outdoor mask mandate and the COVID-19 test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers that take effect Wednesday.
In an official statement released on Tuesday, the BHTA said given the ease in most COVID-19 protocols in overseas territories that, like Barbados, have seen a downward trajectory in COVID-19 cases, a further relaxation of the measures here was the right move.
“The reality of the direction of COVID management in both our source markets and competitive set, is that most have moved to lifting of entry testing and outdoor mask requirements. Indeed, in many source markets mask wearing is a matter of personal choice.
“This means as we move forward, when a traveller is making a decision on travel, they can choose Barbados with increased confidence. There will no longer be testing requirements which add costs to the trip. This change will reduce risk of cancellation and disruption to travel plans and facilitate a return to a more seamless travel experience,” the BHTA stated.
It added that it fully expects a significant increase in projected visitor arrivals for the next few months, as a result of the relaxation of protocols.
“The proposed changes to the Barbados Travel Protocols are expected to result in increased bookings for Barbados, and an improvement in the booking pace.
“Presently, we are projecting occupancies of 48 per cent, 41 per cent and 42 per cent, for the months of May, June and July, 2022, respectively. While we informed previously that we expect those average occupancies to improve, it is now our further hope that the improvement will be more significant with the announced adjustments to the travel protocols.”
According to the BHTA, which represents 300 tourism and non-tourism entities, the science surrounding the current state of the pandemic has given stakeholders the confidence to support easing of restrictions at this time.
“The science around the spread of COVID points to very little evidence of risk of spreading in outdoor and well-ventilated spaces, so that the removal of mask mandates for outdoors also augurs well for the delivery of an improved visitor experience. At this point, people do not wish to be policed and penalised for simply making the choice to walk down the street without a mask,” it said.
The Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), meantime, has disapproved of the changes, warning that failure to test fully vaccinated visitors meant that new strains of the virus would not be detected.
The doctors have also recommended that the mask mandate remain unchanged. (SB/PR)