If there was one person who could truly be called an icon of the travel industry, it was Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
MIAMI — The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is imploring the Government of Canada to reconsider its new testing requirement, saying that it will cause further damage to the region’s economy.
The requirement, which went into effect on Jan. 7, requires all residents and travellers, including those from the Caribbean, to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test before their planned departure to Canada.
“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 CEO and Director General Vanessa Ledesma.
Ledesma added that the policy has resulted in a rash of cancellations by Canadians who had been scheduled to travel to the region, further harming already fragile businesses and economies and keeping more employees from returning to work.
“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 said.
In a statement submitted to Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau and shared with Canadian High Commissions and Consulates across the region, the CHTA, on behalf of the 33 National Hotel and Tourism Associations throughout the region that are part of its Federation, said that “we respectfully request reconsideration of this policy for the Caribbean.”
It went on to say that while it recognizes that the policy is intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, “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 is further reinforced by the low tourism-related transmission rates in the region. According to the CHTA, the Caribbean has maintained one of the lowest incident rates of COVID-19 in the world, largely due to stringent health safety and testing measures that are in place as well as the leadership of many Caribbean Heads of Government.
To view details of the region’s health safety protocols go to www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/health-safety-resources.