Organisations collaborate for healthier, safer tourism
Castries – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) says it has reached agreement with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to implement the Trinidad-based health agency’s regional Tourism and Health Programme (THP).
The St Lucia-based OECS Commission said that the sub-regional grouping is committed to supporting the implementation of the THP and has since formalised its collaboration through the signing of a Letter of Agreement last Friday.
“As tourism-dependent nations, this initiative is key to optimising recovery efforts and promoting the OECS as a healthier, safer destination as countries reopen to tourism. This process with CARPHA started back in 2017 with the endorsement of the OECS Council of Ministers of Health and was later supported by the OECS Council of Ministers of Tourism in 2018,” said OECS Director General, Dr Didacus Jules.
“It is important to note that our modus operandi is to work cross-functionally. The endorsement of both ministerial councils was an important principle in ensuring the effectiveness of the initiative. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the critical importance of implementing the programme. We commend St Lucia for being the first OECS country to fully commit to the process of implementation,” he added.
Apart from St Lucia, the OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.
The OECS Commission said that the THP is expected to support a travel and tourism product that is “safe, secure, and provides an authentic and meaningful experience to travellers to the region whilst protecting the health and wellbeing of locals”.
It said the programme is expected to align the private sector to robust common standards to ensure the safety of its workforce and travellers, making the sector more responsive to the new “COVID-19 normal”, as well as emerging health threats.
This includes healthier, safer, better quality tourism product and destination, enhanced capacity in food safety, health & environment sanitation as well as industry-wide, real-time tourism early warning and response surveillance system (THiS) to avoid and reduce illness spread and negative publicity and increase in the reputation, comparative advantage, hence marketability of travel and tourism in the OECS.
The THP supports the livelihoods of thousands and contributes to enhancing the safety, quality, competitiveness, reputation, resilience and sustainability of Caribbean tourism,” said CARPHA’s Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control, Indar.
“People need to feel assured that when the traffic light system does change, they can choose a healthier, safer option by coming to the Caribbean,” she added.
The OECS Commission said that the THP addresses threats impacting sustainable tourism in the Caribbean through an integrated approach of combining surveillance, capacity building, health, safety and environmental standards as well as healthy workforce and recognition.
“This is a robust, measurable and verifiable travellers’ health assurance and recognition award for tourism entities and destinations that are implementing the THP’s proactive health measures for tourism. The stamp has received the backing of the Caribbean Health and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the Caribbean Tourism Association (CTO),” according to an OECS Commission statement.
It said across the sub-region, THP now has over 670 tourism facilities registered with 6,662 tourism sector workers trained in CARPHA’s COVID-19 Guidelines for Reopening of Caribbean Tourism and Travel; and 59 facilities have been awarded the HST Stamp. (CMC)