Despite having one of the world’s lowest rates of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths, the Caribbean’s economic survival is in serious jeopardy as tourism-dependent economies struggle with the consequences of the pandemic and travel restrictions being imposed and considered by its most popular countries of origin for travel.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) in a press announcement said it welcomed the new United States administration’s international travel measures, which call for returning travelers and those entering the United States to show proof of receiving a negative antigen or PCR test, while not mandating quarantines but recommending self-isolation upon returning.
The organization, whose membership includes 33 of the region’s national hotel and tourism associations, expressed its appreciation and concerns in a letter to President Joe Biden and U.S. government officials last week in response to the administration’s call for input on international travel protocols as part of an Executive Order on the matter.
In throwing its support behind requiring travelers entering the U.S. to show proof of a negative antigen test within 72 hours of travel, CHTA cautioned against the imposition of mandatory PCR tests for travelers returning to or entering the U.S. from the Caribbean, highlighting the stringent virus containment measures already in place within the region and the region’s challenges in administering a much larger number of PCR tests. The organization stated that should this become a new requirement, it would severely strain the current testing capacity of many Caribbean jurisdictions, citing the availability, costs and processing time as essentially rendering much of the region unable to meet local and U.S. traveler testing demand.
With that said, the region has moved aggressively to increase its capacity to administer PCR and antigen tests as it aims to meet local demand and adhere to new testing requirements for travelers and returning residents to its key source markets. This stepped-up effort followed earlier announcements last month by Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union.
(Note that the U.S. testing requirement does not apply to the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which are within the U.S. containment area.)
In its communication to the United States, CHTA added its concerns to those of the World Travel & Tourism Council, the U.S. Travel Association and the International Air Transport Association about the possible imposition of a mandatory quarantine period for travelers to the United States. The organization indicated should this be put in place it would be devastating to the region’s economic health and also have further ramifications on the U.S. economy. The organization cited the link between the economies of the Caribbean and the United States.
CHTA urged Caribbean residents and businesses to bolster their already strong health safety protocols, stating that “this is no time to let our guard down” and echoed calls for all residents to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, wash their hands frequently and adhere to sound hygienic practices advanced by the Caribbean Public Health Agency and local health authorities.
For more information, visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.
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