Posted: Friday, July 9, 2021. 6:19 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: At this week’s CARICOM heads of government meeting, regional leaders agreed that new protocols for health, safety, visitor management and sanitization measures were of utmost importance in encouraging the resuscitation of the tourism sector. They recognized the need to re-open economies while balancing the health and economic livelihood of regional nationals.
A first report on a draft Joint Tourism Policy for CARICOM: COVID-19 Emergency Plan for the period Q3 2021 to Q4 2022 was presented, prepared by the Interim Tourism Working Group (ITWG) which they established earlier this year.
The leaders endorsed the recommendations of the Group with respect to building the COVID-19 Health Safety Risk Resilience and enhancing CARICOM Destination Capacity among others.
Heads of Government agreed to consider proposals to reduce taxes on intra-regional travel for a pilot period of six months.
Heads of Government agreed to consider the use of a Vaccination Passport for vaccinated persons travelling by air and sea, supported by a Digital Vaccination Database, possibly based on the Barbados model in the first instance.
Heads of Government also agreed to consider proposals to create a regional travel bubble for a pilot period of six months taking account of previous lessons learnt.
Heads of Government further agreed on the need for further consultation on the development of a harmonized Policy for cruise ships covering both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.
In this regard, Heads of Government mandated the CARICOM Secretariat, in collaboration with CARPHA and other relevant regional security agencies to convene a high-level meeting with cruise lines to agree on the minimum health and safety requirement for the resumption of cruise sailing in the Caribbean.
Heads of Government commended the work of the ITWG comprising representatives from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the CARICOM Secretariat, the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission and the Governments of The Bahamas, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia.
On the matter of crime, heads were briefed by from the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS). They expressed concern at the new challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the matter of regional transport, Heads of Government mandated the Secretariat to compile a list of fees and taxes which are applicable at the Region’s airports and agreed to the convening of a Special Meeting of the Conference during the week of 12 July 2021 for urgent discussions on the matter of travel taxes.
Heads of Government also agreed to request the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to provide technical support for this effort.
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