New CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne, says the region needs to have harmonised health protocols for travel.
Speaking yesterday, in his first official address as Chairman, after being handed the reins by TT Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Browne said he plans to do away with “discriminatory” travel bans on islands with high COVID-19 numbers.
He said “We need to establish common or harmonised regional health protocols for travel, clear to the public and communicated widely.”
“The discriminatory practice of banning travel from member states with elevated numbers of COVID-19 while accommodating guests from countries of higher risk, should be discouraged.”
He added, “In our tourism-based economies, the resumption of inter-regional travel is one key element in getting key economic activity back to normal.”
He said air transportation is the “oxygen that keeps tourism alive” and proposed the reduction of air travel taxes in order to grow the tourism sector.
Browne thanked Rowley for his “tireless efforts” during his time as CARICOM chair.
He said “I applaud, in particular, his persistent efforts in pursuit of life-saving vaccines for the Caribbean, which has borne some fruits.”