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Regional leaders intent on reviving tourism – joint tourism policy to be prepared

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Posted: Sunday, November 1, 2020. 7:12 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: At Thursday’s meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government, the group welcomed a proposal by the Government of Saint Lucia to prepare and establish a Joint Tourism Policy. They agreed to a Working Group to formulate the policy and report to the Conference by December 31, 2020.

Over the past seven months, Caribbean states recorded unprecedented declines in tourist arrivals due to the COVID-19 pandemic; exacerbated by the slow recovery from devastating hurricanes in 2017 and 2019.

The heads recognized that loss of tax revenues from tourism and implementing needed COVID-19 containment, economic and social support mechanisms had placed unparalleled financial demands on Governments across the Community

The Heads of Government also agreed that a Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee (PMSC) on Tourism be established to provide political oversight for the preparation of the Joint Tourism Policy and other related issues. The Prime Minister of The Bahamas, as the Lead Head of Government for Tourism in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet, will preside over the Sub-Committee which will include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia.

Belize opened its International Airport in October after several postponements. Recently it relaxed quarantine restrictions for tourism, allowing visitors to travel beyond their ‘safe corridor’ as long as they observed Belize’s laws and quarantine regulations. The industry is operating under the defined ‘Gold Standard’ protocol. The government has offered through the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and other financial institutions low-interest loans and grants for small businesses and large, especially those connected to tourism.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has previously suggested that the availability of rapid tests may help cruise tourism recover, as well as pre-testing of passengers. United Airlines is opening a new route from Denver to Ladyville this month and other airlines are hoped to return next year.

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