Caribbean Sees Positive Indicators Despite Omicron

The president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association insists her region remains a safe one for visitors as global concerns over the latest coronavirus variant continue to rise, reports Press Today’s Ian Stalker.

Nicola Madden-Greig told a Wednesday CHTA presentation on the Caribbean’s prospects for the coming winter that she’s convinced that travellers needn’t be nervous about visiting the Caribbean, even as the spread of the Omicron variant prompts many governments in other parts of the world to consider measures that would hamper international travel.

“We (those in the Caribbean’s tourism trade) have proven through the various variants that travel can be done safely…,” Madden-Greig said, citing the likes of resorts that have on-site PCR and antigen testing while guests at other resorts may find testing nearby.

Hotel staff have also received what Madden-Greig called “extensive training” on coronavirus.

“We have been able to keep our visitors safe,” she added.

Wednesday’s update coincided with the start of the Caribbean’s traditionally busy winter tourism season.

Madden-Greig said tourism officials are working to reduce the cost of testing, which has reached US$200 at some hotels but has largely fallen below that.

Tourism officials worry that Omricon will prompt governments to tell their citizens to stay home, with the CHTA joining the WTTC in arguing against travel bans.

Maddison-Greig said governments should try to eliminate “bottlenecks” and uncertainty travellers have to contend with, and added tour operators in turn should have flexible cancellation policies that will reduce unease among their clients about travel.

Madden-Greig said the Caribbean’s tourism trade is recovering faster than tourism in other parts of the world but said recent gains could be reversed by what she called government “over-reaction” to the pandemic.

There were concerns last year that Caribbean hospitals would be “overwhelmed” with coronavirus patients but that didn’t happen as hotels worked to keep their guests safe, she continued.

Meanwhile, Ana Paradela of Expedia told viewers that Expedia research shows there are still positive indicators for Caribbean tourism, despite Omricon’s arrival.

“People are still dreaming, shopping or planning their vacation,” she said.