It’s been a tough time for Caribbean destinations that reopened their borders to international visitors, as government and tourism officials have struggled to contend with the unprecedented challenge posed by COVID-19. Travelers can expect more such fits and starts as the resumption of travel forces hard choices across the region. The pandemic has placed tourism-reliant Caribbean nations in the problematic position of balancing public health with critical tourism activity. There are simply no easy answers when it comes to a global pandemic that is unprecedented in this generation.
Prime Minister Rt. Dean Barrow, who made the announced at a press conference on Aug. 5, said that although the airport will not reopen, the weekly repatriation flights for Belizean nationals abroad will continue; this includes the 14-day mandatory quarantine and health screening upon arrival.
U.S. Virgin Islands has now shut down again
Late last week, the U.S. Virgin Islands reversed a June reopening of its borders to leisure travelers as the territory issued local “stay-at-home” orders to counter recent coronavirus spikes – at least for another month.
The Bahamas reverses their U.S. traveler ban, but with a 14-day mandatory quarantine
The Bahamas endured a similar scenario earlier this month, locking down local activity to curb COVID-19’s spread. One week earlier the country reopened its borders to visitors including U.S. residents, albeit with a mandatory 14-day stay required.
Jamaica declares a resilient corridor
In Jamaica, hoteliers complained after what they said was a reversal in the Disaster Risk Management order that would effectively restrict tourists to hotel grounds rather than allowing the guests to utilize approved transportation from certified hotels to visit specified “resilient corridor” attractions.
COVID-19 travel shutdowns on cruise strains several Caribbean countries
Although land-based tourism has resumed, Jamaica tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said recently the country is “distressed” without cruise ship traffic. The Cayman Islands hosted two million cruise ship visitors last year and the absence of that business was “the biggest hit” to the local economy, said Moses Kirkconnell, the country’s tourism minister, in a recent TravelPulse interview. Cayman officials nevertheless barred cruise calls for the remainder of 2020 and is “working to re-skill cruise industry workers and look for opportunities in the stayover industry” according to Kirkconnell.
Travel Journalist shares insight on the Caribbean and tourism
As a travel journalist who covers the Caribbean, Brian Major for TravelPulse.com has increasingly thought about his own role in the big picture. Major is “anxious to return to the region as soon as possible, but in a safe manner“. In other words, Major does not feel an urge to rush back, but instead, a responsibility to carefully weigh each nation’s specific COVID-19 situation, the protocols in place to safeguard residents’ and visitors’ health, and the level of threat that posed as coming from a high-risk country, namely the United States.
However, the reality is there are Caribbean destinations that are now accepting visitors. It’s important that travel professionals, including all-important travel advisors and certainly travel journalists, reflect the situation on the ground in each Caribbean destination fully and accurately so travelers can make their own tough choices.