PRESS RELEASE (February 16, 2021): Despite having one of the world’s lowest rates of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections, hospitalizations and deaths, the Caribbean’s economic survival is in serious jeopardy as tourism-dependent economies struggle with the consequences of the pandemic and travel restrictions being imposed and considered by its most popular countries of origin for travel.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) welcomed the new United States administration’s balanced international travel measures which call for returning travelers and those entering the United States to show proof of receiving a negative antigen or PCR test while not mandating quarantines but recommending self-isolation upon returning.
The organization, whose membership includes 33 of the region’s national hotel and tourism associations, expressed its appreciation and concerns in a letter to President Joseph Biden and U.S. government officials last week in response to the Administration’s call for input on international travel protocols as part of an Executive Order on the matter.
In throwing its support behind requiring travelers entering the U.S. to show proof of a negative antigen test within 72 hours of travel, CHTA cautioned against the imposition of mandatory PCR tests for travelers returning to or entering the U.S. from the Caribbean highlighting the stringent virus containment measures already in place within the region and the region’s challenges in administering a much larger number of PCR tests. The organization stated that should this become a new requirement, it would severely strain the current testing capacity of many Caribbean jurisdictions citing the availability, costs, and processing time as essentially rendering much of the region unable to meet local and U.S. traveler testing demand.
In recent weeks, the region has moved aggressively to increase its capacity to administer PCR and antigen tests as it aims to meet local demand and adhere to new testing requirements for travelers and returning residents to its key source markets. This stepped-up effort followed earlier announcements last month by Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union which imposed worldwide measures which essentially stopped all international travel to and from those areas.
The U.S. testing requirement does not apply to the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico which are within the U.S. containment area.
In its communication to the United States, CHTA added its concerns to those of the World Travel and Tourism Council, the U.S. Travel Association, and the International Air Transport Association, about the possible imposition of a mandatory quarantine period for travelers to the United States. The organization indicated should this be put in place it would be devastating to the region’s economic health and also have further ramifications on the U.S. economy.
The organization cited the inextricable link between the economies of the Caribbean and the United States, and Florida, in particular, which provides many of the goods and services supportive of travel to the Caribbean: “The imposition of a mandatory quarantine period would bring business and leisure travel between the United States and the Caribbean to a near standstill, with devastating ensuing results to the region’s already vulnerable economies, further eroding tax revenue, employment levels and forcing additional business closures.”
CHTA urged Caribbean residents and businesses to bolster their already strong health safety protocols, stating that “this is no time to let our guard down”, and echoing calls for all residents to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, wash their hands frequently, and adhere to sound hygienic practices advanced by the Caribbean Public Health Agency and local health authorities.
“The tourism industry has incorporated major changes in its operational practices, training, and monitoring and reporting procedures to help ensure the health safety of its guests and employees. These efforts need to continue and in fact be stepped up. By doing so, we can ensure the necessary balance between health safety and slowly reopening tourism.
“By working in collaboration since February 2020 with the Caribbean Public Health Agency and our public sector counterpart, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and other stakeholders at the regional and local levels, we have put in place the protocols, training and operational changes necessary to protect the health of our visitors and the more than two million citizens and residents who are employed in the region through tourism. “The coming months will be critical in determining our ability to manage our economies out of the pandemic and mitigating its impact. Strong health safety protocols and the restoration of travel and tourism, the region’s bread and butter sector, can and must coexist,” CHTA stated.
Sandals Team Excited about Reopening Sandals Royal Bahamian
#TheBahamas, November 24, 2021 – Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International was on hand recently to welcome, engage, thank and motivate returning team members and new recruits of Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island, as the resort ramps up its preparations for its re-opening come January 27, 2022.
With extensive renovations to the re-imagined resort continuing to unfold, the resort is also well advanced with the recruitment of nearly 1,050 team members across several levels and varying departments, and is now proceeding with its immersive orientation and training exercises, preparing the team to welcome guests for the first time since closing in March 2020.
In the most recent onboarding session attended by Stewart and chaired by a host of seasoned Sandals senior management and executives, Stewart welcomed the returning and new recruits. “I want to use this opportunity to officially welcome you to the ‘World’s Best Team’- team Sandals. Having witnessed the progress of the renovations, I can tell you all that the reimagined Sandals Royal Bahamian and all its new features is going to be the most exquisite resort in this country. The reopening of Sandals Royal Bahamian will be magical and I’m looking forward to all of us growing and evolving together. Any company that is growing is a company that provides opportunities and those opportunities are for you to seize,” he shared.
He added that the reopening provides an exceptional opportunity for Sandals and the Bahamian government to continue an amazing and mutually beneficial partnership as the tourism industry and the region continue to chart the way forward on the path to economic recovery.
“My family and I have a love affair with the islands of the Bahamas, there is nothing quite like this country. We made the decision to keep this resort closed so that we could invest in it and invest in this country, as we wanted to ensure that when we stand the test of time for the next 20 years, we have a resort like no other. As a company we promote brand Bahamas using various marketing strategies from traditional to new media, as this is a partnership between you and our organization,” he said.
Stewart spoke at one of the several orientation sessions where new and returning team members will be “Sandalized” – preparing them to effectively and confidently deliver the company’s world-class luxury-included service as they gear up for full return to work.
Philippa Adams, returning team member from the Laundry Department expressed that she is delighted about the reopening.
“I would scream right now but that may not be appropriate but I’m overjoyed that the resort will be reopening in January. The orientation sessions have been so empowering and refreshing and have given me a major boost in confidence. The sessions are furnishing us with all the tools we need to get back to work and execute at an optimal level,” declared Adams.
The orientation commenced on November 1 and will run through to November 26, 2021. Utilising technology and new state of the art training mechanisms, the orientations sessions are being held in adherence to COVID-19 protocols and are therefore being conducted in phases using dual modality of face-to-face sessions and virtual courses by way of the company’s Learning Management System (LMS).
Director for Learning, Development and Service Standards, Dr Phillip Brown shared, “As a team, we pride ourselves on innovation. As the company forges ahead, we elevate our systems to incorporate new ways of ensuring our Sandals standards are maintained, our guests’ expectations are exceeded and our team members are fully equipped for success. During these phased training sessions, team members will be exposed to our company’s world renowned service standards, our ethos of community involvement, particularly through our Sandals Foundation as also the myriad of personal development opportunities through our Sandals Corporate University.”
Brown is part of the company’s training team that is on the ground at Sandals Royal Bahamian. The team comprises leaders from various resorts within the Sandals group who are assisting with ensuring a seamless developmental process for the new recruits ahead of the long awaited, grand reopening.
Photo Caption: Adam Stewart_ Executive Chairman for Sandals Resorts International (SRI) addressed new and returning team members of Sandals Royal Bahamian during an orientation session, recently.
Turks & Caicos Airline links the Caribbean like no other regional Carrier, Now Flying to Guyana
#TurksandCaicos, November 13, 2021 – In under five weeks, interCaribbean Airways, the Turks and Caicos based airline company will begin flights between Barbados and Guyana and on Friday (November 5) the announcement came in a high profile ceremony in George Town.
Founder and Chairman of the airline, Lyndon Gardiner and its CEO Trevor Sadler were both on hand along with other dignitaries in airline and government for the well-received reveal.
Commuters are offered up to 12 flights per week between the countries. The government of Guyana is thrilled at the potential; and so is the government of Barbados.
Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill explained now residents can fly out in the morning and be back home in time for dinner; he had a simple but striking statement for interCaribbean Airways; stay in the market, grow in this market even if there is competition.
When Gardiner, who is native to North Caicos, addressed the historic gathering, he explained “Everyone wants to move here to be part of the new oil, gas, tourism and manufacturing sector. interCaribbean is proud to be a part of this new growth and to support it … and I feel that Guyanese leadership is bullish on managing its economy and encouraging direct foreign investment in a way that is beneficial to the long-term strategic interests of Guyana.”
It was just last year, in August, that interCaribbean amidst the raging coronavirus pandemic stepped up to offer critical airline connection in the Eastern Caribbean.
Gardiner informed that his company was well on its way to having a flight in every Caribbean country by 2025, before progress was slowed by the pandemic. Despite this delay, the feats of interCaribbean Airways are unprecedented and will not be denied according to company executives.
Flights from Barbados to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana begin on December 17.
15 World Travel Award WINNERS for the Turks and Caicos Islands
#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board, the exclusive tourism authority for the Turks and Caicos Islands, is pleased to announce that the destination has been named a winner in seven categories at the 28th annual World Travel Awards. The World Travel Awards serve to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry. Today, it is the leading authority that recognizes the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence, globally. The full list of the prestigious regional awards won by the Turks and Caicos Islands and its tourism partners include:
- Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination 2021 – Turks & Caicos Islands
- Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination 2021 – Turks & Caicos Islands
- Caribbean’s Leading All Suite Hotel 2021 – The Palms Turks & Caicos
- Caribbean’s Leading All-Inclusive Family Resort 2021 – Beaches Turks & Caicos
- Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Island Resort 2021 – Sailrock Resort, Turks & Caicos
- Caribbean’s Leading New Resort 2021 – The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos
- Caribbean’s Leading Private Island Resort 2021 – Pine Cay, The Meridian Club, Turks & Caicos
As a destination, the Turks and Caicos Islands has consecutively won the award for the Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination and the Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination. These awards come as no surprise as the Islands are renowned for its pristine beaches and breathtaking turquoise waters and are considered the ideal destination for honeymoons and weddings.
Minister of Tourism, Honorable Josephine Connolly, stated, “We are thrilled to have continuously won in these categories of the World Travel Awards, as this is testament to our continued commitment in ensuring the Turks and Caicos Islands is the leading tourism destination in the region. The Ministry of Tourism’s team and industry partners all play an equally important part in promoting the destination and strengthening the brand of the destination. The awards are a cumulative effort of all tourism partners inclusive of the Ministry of Health, who have guided us throughout this pandemic and implemented protocols that not only keep the local population safe but have allowed the tourism industry to thrive. We are grateful to our team, partners and all persons in the industry for the various roles they play in continuing to make our destination a leader in the industry.”
Director of Tourism, Pamela Ewing, stated, “My team and I are ecstatic to receive the awards for Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination and Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination.
The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board has continued to promote the destination through strategic marketing and promotions plans as both a ‘Beautiful by Nature’ destination and as the leading destination for honeymoons and weddings.” The World Travel Awards also recognized and awarded some of the best tourism related agencies within the Turks and Caicos Islands, as follows:
- Turks & Caicos’ Leading Boutique Hotel 2021 – Windsong Resort
- Turks & Caicos’ Leading Car Rental Company 2021 – Avis
- Turks & Caicos’ Leading Destination Management Company 2021 – Olympia Destination Management Company
- Turks & Caicos’ Leading Hotel 2021 – The Palms Turks & Caicos
- Turks & Caicos’ Leading Hotel Suite 2021 – Four Bedroom Oceanfront Penthouse @ Windsong Resort
- Turks & Caicos’ Leading Resort 2021 – Amanyara Villas
- Turks & Caicos’ Leading Tour Operator 2021 – Caicos Dream Tours
- Turks & Caicos’ Leading Travel Agency 2021 – Turks & Caicos Reservations
Traditionally, the World Travel Awards host a Gala Ceremony where top industry leaders and high-level tourism professionals from across the Caribbean region gather. However, given the ongoing global challenges, they have now opted to host a virtual day of celebrations in lieu of a physical ceremony.
Today, we virtually celebrate the World Travel Awards Winners for the Caribbean & North America.
Photo Credit: Brilliant Photography
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