Director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Vanessa Ledesma (Photo: Smart Meetings)

CHTA lobbies for harmonisation of travel regulations

Director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Vanessa Ledesma (Photo: Smart Meetings)

As the novel coronavirus continues to impact travel and tourism across the region and in major source markets, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has said that it will continue to lobby regional governments for a coordinated approach to the implementation of travel regulations.

“We continue to lobby governments, waiting for harmonisation of entry requirements to ease the traveller preparation experience. We know that travel advisories remain very challenging as people move to understand what the protocols and requirements are, as in most instances these change daily.

“In supporting and assisting our travel partners we have developed a grid that summarises the requirements for all our 33-member destinations including links to the specific destination’s website with all the required information,” said acting chief executive officer (CEO) and director general of the CHTA, Vanessa Ledesma, during a Global Trade Associations status of travel and safety webinar held on Wednesday.

She noted that while data continue to indicate that there was high demand for travel to the Caribbean, particularly from major markets such as the United States, factors such as the management of the pandemic in host destinations as well as their respective safety protocols ranked high on the requirement list of travellers.

With early assessments already indicating varying travel trends in region and travellers being more inclined to travel to regions having higher vaccination rates, the CHTA believes the need for a coordinated approach was becoming more essential.

She said with tourism being a major economic driver in the Caribbean, the drastic fall-outs suffered from the pandemic must be properly navigated and done in a collaborative way if the sector is to secure robust recovery, following its near decade of unprecedented growth.

Travellers prefer to visit countries in which vaccination rates are higher. (Photo: GIS Barbados)

Ledesma underscored that with Caribbean tourism having already taken a massive beating since the onset of the pandemic last year, suffering a 58 per cent decline in gross domestic product contributions and over 700,000 jobs lost, a full recovery of the sector will require high levels of adaptability, flexibility and collaboration across all member countries.

She credited the trade association’s unique health-and-tourism partnership with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) as being instrumental in promoting effective health safety prevention and mitigation efforts which she believes have helped to place the region among one of those with the lowest number of deaths and infections when compared globally.

Expressing optimism for growth of the industry despite the challenges, Ledesma, however, pointed to encouraging statistics which she suggested as an indication that the region’s bread and butter was poised for a strong come back.

“Moving forward, the Caribbean’s recovery strategies and actions will continue to include: advancing health safety initiatives, building trade and traveller confidence, advancing better tour operator policies, advancing regional collaboration to support tourism’s recovery, making the case for travel with key international markets, and advocating for jurisdictional and regional policies supporting recovery,” she said, adding that increased governmental support, effective communications and public relations, a strong focus on health and safety, investments in the region’s human resources, partnership and collaboration and improved efficiencies were all needed to support recovery of the lucrative industry.