Written by 1:46 pm Travel

Tourism players cautious as new variant continues to spread

Tourism officials are hoping for the very best but bracing for the worst, as the newest COVID-19 variant runs rampant in a lot of this country’s primary tourism markets.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins is, nevertheless, expressing confidence in public health protocols that allow most vaccinated travellers to enter the country without being tested on arrival.

While declaring that 4 previous run-ins with variants of concern provide a solid foundation for the national response, she admitted that new policies in other countries could hamper the reboot.

“We’re in a a lot better position to make decisions which can be data and science-driven. But along with that, we are also ready to see how our source markets typically reply to the changes,” Cummins told Barbados TODAY.

“Sometimes they go into lockdown, sometimes they go into travel bans, sometimes, as one market has already began to say to its nationals ‘for those who are travelling over the vacations, we are able to’t guarantee that you simply’re going to get back in’.

“That’s something that we now have seen since February 2020. It isn’t unusual. And, so, we now have planned for the very best possible winter season but we now have also anticipated that it could turn the wrong way very, in a short time. That has been the character of the last 22 months and so we pivot as we want to,” the Tourism Minister added.

Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Geoffrey Roach recently revealed that widespread concern overseas about Omicron was not yet leading to cancellations.

In reality, Senator Cummins has touted multiple packed flights out of North America on American Airlines and JetBlue in addition to from the UK through Virgin Atlantic.

British officials are reporting a “tidal wave” of new cases, with infections doubling every two to a few days, and the medical fraternity is looking for tougher restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Government of Barbados has opened the door to parties and bigger social gatherings, as new infections fall near the peak of the Christmas season.

Senator Cummins, nevertheless, stressed that in all cases, each locals and visitors are held to the identical duty to watch the country’s protocols.

“When people come to Barbados, they arrive to enjoy themselves they usually come to Barbados they usually enjoy themselves inside the principles and confines of Barbados, similar to Barbadians enjoy Barbados inside the confines of the principles,” said Cummins.

“But allow us to not also attempt to villainise this because there are people of any nationality…who, wherever they go, whether at home or abroad, will select to not follow the principles. I don’t think that that is almost all and due to this fact should develop into the premise of our public discourse because the vast majority of people, visitors and Barbadians, follow the principles,” she added.

The Government Minister noted that the country’s entry protocols were “historically robust”, stressing that even now, the Chief Medical Officer may require vaccinated passengers to be randomly tested at his discretion.

Cummins added that between 80 and 90 per cent of tourists coming into the island are vaccinated and surges of cases at the moment are mainly generated inside the local population.

“Now we have been at this for 22 months, so if by now we haven’t learned what the practices are, then we actually wouldn’t have taken full advantage of what we’re coping with.

“When the second lockdown got here, we still didn’t have vaccines. We knew greater than we did, but we were still learning.

“By the point the third wave got here around, we had vaccines…we had secondary sites, vaccine sites, we had the entire virologists, we had epidemiologists, we had plenty of stuff occurring. So, every time, our response has been based on data and never reactionary responses,” Minister Cummins said.
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