Rigid COVID-19 protocols enabled St. Lucia to successfully reopen its borders to visitors as other Caribbean destinations have yet to resume tourism activity or reinstituted local lockdowns, the country’s tourism minister said recently.
St. Lucia Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee described his country’s COVID-19 protocols as “world-class” and said the “consistent flow” of visitors since the reopening has “vindicated” officials who opted to re-launch tourism activity.
The results are “a testimony to our insistence that we have a pre-testing regime,” said Fedee in a St. Lucia Times report. He said authorities here were earlier “hauled over the coals” by local and international tourism stakeholders regarding the country’s rigid COVID-19 pre-testing mechanism to sustain the opening of the tourism sector.
“We have been vindicated by ensuring that we stay the course and remain very strict as it pertains to the pre-testing protocol,” Fedee said.
He observed, “Some of our Caribbean brothers and sisters, on attempting to open, unfortunately, did not have the rosiest of times where they have had to start and stop.” Fedee said the establishment of a COVID-19 testing facility at Hewanorra International airport has helped facilitate the reopening.
Saint Lucia reopened to visitors on July 9 and requires travelers from non “travel bubble” countries, including the U.S., to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test within seven days of travel.
Visitors are required to complete a pre-arrival registration form in advance and undergo screening, including temperature checks, upon arrival at Hewanorra International Airport. Symptomatic visitors will be isolated and tested. Visitors from outside the travel bubble who arrive without proof of a negative result will be subject to immediate isolation and COVID-19 testing at their own cost.
Saint Lucia has re-started tourism activity as “thousands” of the island’s residents remain unemployed, Fedee said. The government is obliged to “prioritize the safety and the health of the country and individuals who are out of work” and thus instituted “a very responsible kind of tourism which so far has yielded significant dividends.”
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