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An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 lands at Toronto Pearson International Airport on March 13, 2019. (Photo: Chris Helgren/Reuters)

St Lucia welcomes first Air Canada flight since reopening of airport

An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 lands at Toronto Pearson International Airport on March 13, 2019. (Photo: Chris Helgren/Reuters)

St Lucia welcomed the first flight from Canada over the weekend since it closed its borders to international travel on March 23 in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVD-19), with tourism officials indicating that the island welcomed four international flights from the United States and Canada.

An aerial view of Castries, the capital of St Lucia. (Photo: LinkedIn: Invest St Lucia)

The St Lucia Tourist Association (SLTA) said that an Air Canada flight arrived here from Toronto operating at 99 per cent capacity.

The SLTA said that the island welcomed an additional three flights from the United States with a second American Airlines flight from Miami, the return of United Airlines from Newark, and JetBlue from Boston.

“As part of the islands responsible reopening plan, all 725 travellers into Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) were met with a full complement of protocols in place, including a fully staffed nurses’ station, added sanitising stations and thermal scanners and well as physical distancing markers,” the SLTA added.

An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 lands at Toronto Pearson International Airport on March 13, 2019. (Photo: Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Tourism Minister, Dominic Fedee, said “we are pleased to welcome Air Canada back to familiar shores and this would signify the opening up of the gateway to other carriers. We are also elated to again welcome United Airlines and the additional services from Jet Blue and American Airline.

“While we navigate this pandemic, we know that at this juncture tourism is really what the world is looking to as an economic driver and for us here in St Lucia, we continue to manage visitor arrivals in a very responsible manner,” he added.

The SLTA said that a key part of St Lucia’s responsible reopening is the COVID-19 compliance certification process for the accommodations sector.

Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee

It said to date, more than 30 hotels have received COVID-19 Certification and that visitors can select COVID-19 certified hotels through direct booking, tour operator or airline provider.

“A COVID-19 Command Center continuously monitors local and global health updates, assessing protocol options to mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19 for visitors and St Lucian communities,” the SLTA added.

St Lucia is among several tourism-dependent countries that has been affected by the pandemic that severely limited the movement of people across the globe.