The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is calling on the Canadian government to reconsider their latest COVID testing rules.
The CHTA, which is the Caribbean’s largest industry, says Canada’s new rules will weigh on already stressed Caribbean public health systems and cause further damage to the region’s economy.
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Starting January 7, Canada will require all residents and travelers five years and older to demonstrate a negative COVID-19 PCR test prior to their planned departure for Canada.
“These policies create challenges and pose even greater economic difficulties for the Caribbean people and governments and the thousands of Canadians in the Caribbean who are expected to return home in the coming weeks,” said Vanessa, acting CEO and General Manager of CHTA Ledesma.
The mere announcement of the policy resulted in a plethora of cancellations by Canadians traveling to the area, Ledesma noted, further damaging already fragile businesses and economies and preventing more employees from returning to work.
“As the policy goes into effect, we believe that many stranded Canadians will not be able to return home because they cannot get tests in the time required,” she complained.
Politics has also created a lot of confusion among travelers. Canadians in Jamaica found they couldn’t get tests on time, which led the Canadian government to change its policies and allow Canadian travelers in Jamaica to fly home this week and get their PCR test in Toronto.
While CHTA recognizes that the policy aims to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, a goal the association shares, “Our commitment to the health and safety of residents and travelers is best demonstrated through COVID-19 protocols and containment measures demonstrates deployed across the Caribbean and the thousands of tourism workers who have completed 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 compounded by the low tourist transmission rates in the area.
“On behalf of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the 33 national hotel and tourism associations throughout the region that are part of our federation, we respectfully request a re-examination of this policy for the Caribbean,” said CHTA in a statement to the Canadian Minister of Transport Marc Garneau and share with Canadian high commissions and consulates in the region.
CHTA believes that the region’s success in maintaining one of the lowest COVID-19 incident rates in the world is largely due to the rigorous health and testing measures put in place thanks to the leadership of many Caribbean leaders and the strong government partnerships between the Health and Tourism Sector.
Health security logs in the Caribbean can be found at www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/health-safety-resources. They have been the basis for health and safety training for thousands of employees since June 2020.
These protocols are recognized by health security partners including CARPHA, CTO, and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).