Sea, sand and social distancing: Caribbean reopens to tourism

FILE PHOTO: A safety agent carrying a protecting masks walks on the seashore amid issues concerning the unfold of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), in Varadero, Cuba, April 10, 2020. Image taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini -/File Photograph

CASTRIES, St Lucia/KINGSTON: A cluster of Caribbean islands are reopening this month for worldwide tourism, hoping to burnish their reputations as oases of tranquility after containing their coronavirus outbreaks and implementing strict new public well being protocols.

The Caribbean, identified for its palm-fringed seashores, turquoise water and colonial cities, is probably the most tourism-dependent area on the planet. The transfer is a pilot take a look at for different areas planning to restart tourism after pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Antigua and Barbuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Lucia are the primary to reopen this week. Jamaica and Aruba are set to comply with later within the month, with July goal dates for the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

Whereas different vacationer hotspots like Greece intention to restrict arrivals from nations with excessive an infection charges, the primary flights the Caribbean is receiving are from america, which has the world’s highest variety of reported circumstances.

However native tourism officers say they’ve little alternative. Individuals accounted for nearly half the Caribbean’s 31.5 million guests final 12 months.

“What are we going to attend for? A vaccine? Shut down the nation for 2 years?” Antigua and Barbuda’s Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez stated in an interview.

As an alternative, the islands reopening will conduct well being screening, together with temperature checks upon arrival, and require or encourage using face masks in public areas.

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They’re divided although over whether or not to check – as advisable by the Caribbean Public Well being Company – due to price, reliability and availability issues. With out testing, asymptomatic guests may very well be a danger.

Antigua and Barbuda will conduct a fast coronavirus take a look at of holiday makers upon arrival, stated Fernandez.

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet instructed Reuters it might require a certificates for a unfavourable coronavirus take a look at carried out within the 48 hours earlier than departure.

It stays unclear if this may work, given checks are usually not extensively accessible on demand in america.

Considerations stay over reopenings in nations that don’t require testing of arrivals, like Jamaica.

“Folks ought to object, as ought to anybody who has performed what they’ve performed to flatten the curve of latest circumstances,” stated civil rights advocate Carol Narcisse, noting Jamaica has warned of a probable new rise in circumstances.

“Whose curiosity is the federal government actually serving right here?”


The coronavirus period has uprooted Caribbean carnival celebrations, nights out clubbing and resort buffets.

Nonetheless, the tourism trade hopes the mere enchantment of solar, sea and the outside will suffice.

“Put up-coronavirus, individuals need to get outdoors,” stated Marc Melville, the pinnacle of Jamaica-based Chukka Excursions.

Caribbean nations, which had been fast to close their borders and impose strict lockdowns because the pandemic unfold, hope to market themselves as protected locations.

Antigua and Barbuda and the U.S. Virgin Islands have respectively only one and two reported circumstances, in line with officers. St Lucia has none.

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Officers need the brand new tourism tips to reassure vacationers, with out being off-putting. Measures embrace sanitizing surfaces and social distancing in lodges, eating places, tour operators and taxis.

Digital transactions intention to scale back the trade of money and face-to-face interplay.

Jamaica’s preliminary tips, which run greater than 100 pages lengthy, even element the necessity to scale back capability on boats or to take away towels mendacity round resorts with tongs. Jamaican Tourism Minister

Edmund Bartlett stated the nation ought to reopen and adapt to bolster its vacationer trade amid the worldwide financial disaster.

“It’s a brand new sort of traveler who’s going to be massively well being acutely aware,” Bartlett stated, branding this the “Technology C” traveler, in reference to the post-coronavirus vacationer.

Islands like St. Lucia will tempo their reopenings, preserving vacationer websites closed in a primary part and permitting seated restaurant service solely at resorts.

On his weblog “One Mile at a Time,” journey author Ben Schlappig wrote St. Lucia’s plan would make him really feel protected: “The query turns into whether or not a go to could be any enjoyable with all of those restrictions.”