Caribbean destination and resort officials are working overtime to secure testing services as the policy shift could potentially strand hundreds of vacationers in Caribbean destinations, as they seek to arrange for testing, as well as impact upcoming Caribbean bookings. Announced this week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will require all inbound air travelers to present a negative COVID-19 test within the 72 hours of travel. Resultantly, advisors find themselves “scrambling to find information on test locations and wait times for results, in all Caribbean destinations, in an effort to salvage those bookings,” TravelPulse reports.
Testing Availability in the Caribbean
The growing concern is local testing capacities in destinations, especially as destinations try to secure more coronavirus tests. With the expanded protocol coming into effect January 26, the clock is ticking. “Most of the region needs additional time to rapidly build up additional capacity beyond the short time window provided,” said Vanessa Ledesma, Acting CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).
In Jamaica, Edmund Bartlett, the tourism minister, named a special task force to “spearhead efforts to boost Jamaica’s COVID-19 testing capacity; in light of the growing demand for such tests, fueled by new travel requirements in key tourism source markets,” according to a statement. And in Belize, the Tourism Board confirmed that testing will be expanded and made available to all passengers departing Belize for the US. Further details including cost and testing locations across the country are yet to be determined.
While Saint Lucia’s government has yet to issue a statement, a source shares with TravelPulse with knowledge of island tourism says the destination will “have options available for travelers who are required to have a COVID-19 test before returning home, including testing at their hotel or at a local testing facility.”
The Value of Travel Advisors
Now, travel advisors are flexing their importance—and resourcefulness—to accommodate clients around the restrictions. The CDC provided a form for travelers who have had COVID-19 and recovered within the last 90 days. These travelers would not be required to present a negative result upon returning to the U.S.