If there was one person who could truly be called an icon of the travel industry, it was Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
TORONTO — The Dutch Caribbean destination of St. Maarten has pushed back its reopening date for U.S. travellers from July 15 to Aug. 1.
As for Canadian travellers, St. Maarten’s Minister of Tourism Ludmila de Weever says Canada is in St. Maarten’s lower-risk bracket, “and it’s really about when [Canadians] are ready to fly. We’re ready to accept them.”
De Weever took part in a CTO Facebook Live session this morning, updating the trade on St. Maarten’s reopening plans.
Meanwhile, Grenada has announced a new reopening date, one month later than originally planned.
Here are all the latest updates …
On this morning’s Facebook Live session, part of the CTO’s ‘Plain Speaking’ series, de Weever said that while St. Maarten originally planned to welcome back U.S. flights starting tomorrow, July 15, that date has now been pushed back to Aug. 1.
“The one constant is that things are always changing,” she said.
“Everybody got a bit nervous when they heard we were reopening to the U.S.,” she added. However, Aug. 1 is now a hard deadline. “August 1 is in the books now. What you don’t want to do is keep pushing dates with airlines. You have to give them a date and stick to it.”
She added that the airlines “have been so understanding. In our discussions, one said to us, ‘Any decision you make, we respect that. You have to keep your country safe.’ That kind of understanding, coming from these major airline companies, that means a lot.
“People may get frustrated and lose patience but at the end of the day we are looking out for our visitors as well as our residents.”
Presenting today’s Facebook Live session along with de Weever was the CTO’s Communications Specialist, Johnson JohnRose. “If you’re going to open to the U.S., you have to find that balance between lives and livelihoods,” he said.
De Weever agreed, noting “we are so grateful people want to come here, but we’re a small location and our capacities are limited.”
The destination reopened to Europe and several Caribbean islands on July 1. So far that stage of the reopening process is going well, says de Weever. Anyone coming to St. Maarten must upload the results of their negative PCR test (taken within 72 hours of arrival) and complete a health questionnaire.
St. Maarten’s Health Declaration Platform, with all these details and more, is at stmaartenentry.com.
De Weever said St. Maarten is looking at reducing the number of people allowed into the destination. “Not all airlines are doing reduced capacity [onboard]. Even with the Europe flights we’ve had already, we’re getting about 1,000 passengers per week. That’s already a lot and the flights and getting fuller and fuller. So we are considering [limiting the number of arrivals]. But we haven’t come to a final decision. It’s one thing if airlines are reducing onboard capacity. But for airlines who aren’t doing that, it’s a different story.”
St. Maarten will be watching the COVID-19 numbers in the U.S. very carefully in the next couple of weeks. “Eighty percent of our market is North America, i.e. the U.S.,” said de Weever.
Two helpful sites for anyone looking to travel to St. Maarten, or agents with clients looking to travel to the destination, are stmaartenentry.com and stmaartenupdates.com.
Grenada has a new reopening date for international visitors, including the Canadian market.
Initially scheduled to reopen July 1, Grenada has remained closed following a June 28 address from Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who called for a more cautious approach to reopening the country’s borders.
Now Grenada will reopen to international travellers on Aug. 1. The reopening date for regional visitors is July 15.
Canada is on Grenada’s list of medium-risk countries, along with the UK and other EU countries.
Protocols include a mandatory certified copy of a negative PCR test dated no more than 7 days prior to departure. All passengers must also undergo a rapid test on arrival at the airport. If the rapid test is positive, the traveller will then be tested using swab/PCR and placed in quarantine at an approved accommodation at their expense, for 2 – 4 days, pending the PCR result. If that subsequent test is positive they will remain in quarantine for up to 14 days, or until they have tested negative on PCR.
All travellers must also complete, sign and submit a Health Declaration Form, and download and register on Grenada’s contact tracing app. Both can be found at covid19.gov.gd.
Non-national must also have travel insurance covering COVID-19, or declare that they will bear the cost for treatment and isolation, according to a statement from Grenada’s Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation.