Caribbean islands set to reopen to tourism

 Thursday, June 4, 2020 


A cluster of Caribbean islands has decided to reopen for international tourism starting this month. Recognised for its palm-tree adorned beaches, crustal clear waters and colonial towns, the Caribbean is one of most tourism-dependent region in the world. The reopening plan comes with the aim of re-establishing the destination’s reputation as oases of tranquillity after it has successfully constrained the coronavirus outbreaks. The island has also implemented new stringent public health protocols.

Among the Caribbean regions, Antigua and Barbuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Lucia will be the first to reopen this week. It will be followed by Jamaica and Aruba that will reopen later this month. Meanwhile, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic is set to reopen around July. The latest move can be considered as a pilot test for other regions to restart their tourism after the global pandemic situation gets better and lockdown restrictions are over.

On the other hand, Greece has decided to restrict arrivals from countries with high infection rates. However, the first flights arriving in Caribbean are from the United States, which has one of the highest numbers of reported cases in the world. This is being considered as Americans accounted for almost half the Caribbean’s 31.5 million visitors last year and local tourism officials are left with limited choice.

The reopening islands will organise mandatory health screening, including temperature checks upon arrival. Usage of face masks in public spaces is also being encouraged. Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez mentioned in a statement that the island will conduct a rapid coronavirus test of visitors upon arrival. St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said the region will require a certificate for a negative coronavirus test conducted in the 48 hours before departure.

The coronavirus pandemic has harshly impacted the Caribbean carnival celebrations, nightlife, clubbing and resort buffets. But the tourism industry continues to hope that the sun, sea and the outdoors of the country is capable of drawing back tourists once again. The Caribbean nations has already been appreciated for rapid border closures and strict lockdown restrictions at the very initial stage of the coronavirus pandemic and hence hopes to declare themselves as a safe destination as the curve has started to flatten.

Tourism officials have also suggested introduction of the new tourism guidelines that can assure travellers about safe travelling once the hard times are over. The guidelines are set to include sanitizing and social distancing measures in hotels, restaurants, tour operators and taxis. Digital transaction is also being encouraged to reduce the exchange of cash and face-to-face interaction.

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