St Lucia says it has welcomed more than 16,000 visitors since it reopened its borders on July 9 following its closure four months earlier as part of efforts to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Ministry of Tourism said that as part of the island’s “responsible reopening plan” millions of dollars (one EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) have been invested to implement and maintain safety protocols.
It said all arriving passengers and returning nationals are subject to strictly enforced guidelines throughout their visit.
The ministry said that notwithstanding having recorded three new cases of the virus with no deaths to date, St Lucia continues to earn and retain its premier position as the Caribbean country with the fewest number of cases per capita.
“The key stakeholders within the tourism industry have worked together closely since the pandemic began, developing public and private sector initiatives and dedicating significant resources to the island’s COVID-19 response.
“Since the resumption of commercial flights on July 9, the tourism sector has been very vigilant in maintaining the protocols set by the Ministry of Health and Wellness,” Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee said.
“I want to assure you of the industry’s commitment to remain transparent as we continue to build confidence among international travellers and as we reinforce our strong commitment and track record of 100 per cent tourism industry compliance to all COVID-19 protocols,” he added.
The authorities said that the strict adherence to guidelines has not only helped to mitigate the spread and importation of COVID-19, but it has also helped to reignite the tourism industry.
“As a result of the responsible approach to reopening, even more COVID-19- certified hotels are scheduled to open in November, new activities are continuously being certified and additional sectors, such as the restaurant industry, are being reopened for tourism,” the ministry added.
“As the destination gears up for increased arrivals with the reopening of additional accommodations and additional air service, safety protocols are critically important to protect our local citizens and keep the momentum going for the thousands of St Lucians who are involved in every aspect of tourism.
“We acknowledge the hospitality sector’s adherence to these procedures, as it has helped to facilitate our responsible reopening and we have every confidence that St Lucia will continue to offer the safest possible environment for visitors and nationals,” the ministry said.
President of the St Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association, Karolin Troubetzkoy, said the health of the various stakeholders, including those in the communities, “remains the paramount concern of our tourism businesses”.
“Given the importance of our hospitality and tourism industry to the country’s overall economic recovery, our professionals recognise the importance of remaining vigilant and upholding the highest possible standards at all times. Together with our public sector partners, we are entirely committed to working together closely with all stakeholders to allow for the continued success of the country’s tourism reopening strategy,” Troubetzkoy added.