CHTA appeals Canada new COVID-19 testing requirement: St Lucia anticipates tourism decline

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By Caribbean News Globalfav

TORONTO, Canada – The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the 33 National Hotel and Tourism Associations throughout the region, which are part of our Federation, announced Monday that they requested reconsideration of the government of Canada in a submission to Canada’s minister of transport Marc Garneau and shared with Canadian High Commissions and Consulates across the region to ‘reverse harmful COVID-19 travel requirement’ that came into effect January 7, 2021’.

Effective January 7, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EST, all air passengers five years of age or older is required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada.

“Our government remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians. These new measures will provide another layer of protection for Canadians as we continue to assess public health risks and work to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” said, minister of transport Garneau.

Canada introduces pre-departure and entry COVID-19 negative results for all air travellers effective January 7, 2021

CHTA case to the government of Canada to reconsider the new pandemic testing rules argue, “will strain already stressed Caribbean public health systems and cause further damage to the region’s economy”.

CHTA request reconsideration of this policy for the Caribbean is said to have resulted in a rash of cancellations by Canadians who had been scheduled to travel to the region, further harming already fragile businesses and economies and keeping more employees from returning to work.

CHTA’s acting chief executive officer and director-general Vanessa Ledesma, said: “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.”

“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,” Ledesma noted.

CHTA is the latest disaffected, following IATA’s frustration with Canada’s new COVID-19 testing requirement, said in part: “While the industry for months has been calling for systematic testing to re-open borders without quarantine measures, these pleas have fallen on deaf ears, especially in Canada. Now, in a decision that can only be described as the ‘worst of both worlds’, the government is mandating that passengers provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours before planned departure to Canada, while at the same time declining to lift existing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.”

Meanwhile, Saint Lucia anticipates tourism decline with COVID-19 disruptions in source markets UK, Europe, US and Canada, tourism minister Dominic Fedee said measures have been instituted in hopes of maintaining the sector.

“We have been using innovative marketing techniques to see how best we can encourage individuals to come to our shores in the numbers that would make it sustainable for our hotels to remain open and for the airlines to keep flying. We do anticipate that a number of the airlines are going to scale back in terms of capacity and that will no doubt affect arrivals.”

“There is a prevailing increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and the number of hospitalizations, as well as the stress on the healthcare sector within the United States. This poses significant challenges on the ability of people to travel,” he explained. “A new development that we’re seeing now is that a number of states are already requiring testing on the way back and that did not happen in the earlier stages of our reopening. This is a new challenge which is no doubt going to be an impediment for people who want to travel,” said Fedee, at the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority briefing January 6, 2021.

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), placed significant strain on Saint Lucia’s economy, with real GDP projected to decline by 16.9 percent in 2020, is beginning to impact the ‘ratings of Company’s monopoly position.

David Jessop article; Full Caribbean tourism recovery possible post-2021 provides an interesting contrast with comments from Frank Comito, the outgoing chief executive officer and director-general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), modelling by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Jamaica’s tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, and Neil Walters, the acting director-general of the public sector Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), noted in a new year’s message that although the region, for the most part, had been able to control the local spread of the virus, the pandemic had crippled many smaller tourism-dependent economies.

Based on the experience, the advice of public health experts and the two-year cycle of previous pandemics, CTO he said, hoped that a return to ‘normalcy’ will occur beyond December 2021, but that the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus “may stay with us for an indefinite period”.

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