Tourism officials are calling on the government for an urgent review of seven of the existing Covid-19 protocols.
In a February 2, 2022 letter to the Chair of the National COVID-19 Management Center (NCMC), Cletus Springer, the Saint Lucia Hotels & Tourism Association (SLHTA) cited regional and international protocols changes that had placed the local tourism sector at a disadvantage in the market place.
According to the letter, “Jamaica, Antigua, Dominica, Barbados and other regional states are aggressively reviewing their protocols with a view to making them more trade-friendly, thereby jumpstarting their economic engines.”
The SLHTA in assessing the impact of protocol changes in other countries said that “If Saint Lucia is not more pro-active in this regard, we run the risk of being relegated to mere spectator status.”
The SLHTA, therefore, proposed seven matters for the government’s urgent consideration:
suspend decisions to receive only vaccinated travelers, review vaccination of staff at high-risk services, lift restrictions on social gatherings, revisit business operating hours, end the vaccinated dine-in policy for restaurants, abolish laundering of staff uniforms by hotel operators and consider Antigen Tests for Caribbean visitors as an alternative to PCR tests.
The SLHTA in calling for protocol changes highlighted the negative impact the seven matters was having on the sector.
Mindful of the new challenges post Covid, the letter went on to caution that “the post-pandemic world may pose a greater challenge to us if we fail to take aggressive policy measures to mitigate further damage meted out by the pandemic.”
The Association in recognition of its social responsibility reminded the government of its “obligations to workers and investors”, as well as ensuring that “communities and their environments are paramount in our considerations and are not impaired by our proposed amendments.” In its letter to the government it further stated that “ tourism has the capacity to bridge linkages, connect people and recover our economic strength if given a fair opportunity to do so.”
The Association agreed to assist the government in meeting the seven recommendations, saying that it was “in the interest of the collective good.”