MIAMI (January 9, 2021) – The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), which represents the Caribbean’s biggest industry, has made its case to the Government of Canada to reconsider new pandemic testing rules that will strain already stressed Caribbean public health systems and cause further damage to the region’s economy.
From January 7, 2021, Canada is requiring that all residents and travelers entering from the Caribbean 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.
The mere announcement of the policy has resulted in a rash of cancellations by Canadians who had been scheduled to travel to the region, Ledesma observed, 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 lamented.
While CHTA recognizes that the policy is intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, an objective shared by the association, “our commitment to the health and safety of residents and travelers 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.
“On behalf of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the 33 National Hotel and Tourism Associations throughout the region, which are part of our Federation, we respectfully request reconsideration of this policy for the Caribbean,” CHTA stated in a submission to Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau and shared with Canadian High Commissions and Consulates across the region.
CHTA believes the region’s success in maintaining one of the lowest incident rates of COVID-19 in the world is largely because of the stringent health safety and testing measures which are in place, thanks to the leadership of many Caribbean Heads of Government, and the strong partnerships between the health and tourism sectors.
Caribbean health safety protocols 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 safety partners, including CARPHA, CTO, and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).