Black Meetings and Tourism

September / October 2020

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CARIBBEAN TOURISM AND HEALTH STAKEHOLDERS FORGE ALLIANCE TO SAFEGUARD VISITORS AND RESIDENTS FROM COVID-19 The leaders of the Caribbean tourism and health sectors, who are working together to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the region, are implementing readiness and response measures to prevent and contain the virus. While there has been no local spread of the virus in the Caribbean, commu- nity transmission is now reported in many other countries than China, some of which have nonstop flights to Caribbean States. Therefore, due to the current increased risk of importation of COVID-19 to the region, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has upgraded the risk of Coronavirus disease transmission from "low" to "moderate to high". In light of this, CARPHA Executive Director DR. JOY ST. JOHN is urging health authorities of CARPHA Member States to shift their mindset from pre- paredness to readiness and rapid response and continue to do all that is neces- sary to strengthen their capacity to respond to possible importation of cases. The recently established COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force comprises representatives from CARPHA, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and the Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC). In a statement issued by the leaders of the task force member organiza- tions, they indicated that a Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed upon by the organizations to foster closer collaboration. "Recognizing the essential need to safeguard the health and safety of resi- dents and visitors to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 threat to the Caribbean; and further recognizing the importance of building upon the col- laborative efforts which are already underway, and the need to pool organiza- tional resources to do so; we have agreed to formalize our efforts and messag- ing through the establishment of the COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force (CCTTF)," the MOU reads. The organizations acknowledged concerns about the high level of misun- derstanding about the virus which has elevated the panic at the global level and resulted in the dissemination of a high level of misinformation. The CCTTF will focus on raising awareness and sharing accurate infor- mation; strengthening monitoring at airports, seaports, and hotels and accom- modations; improving coordination among stakeholder organizations and locally between tourism and health officials; sharing best practices; training, education and capacity building; and conducting tourism impact research. "Tourism is the lifeblood of the Caribbean so we've come together as organizations already engaged in readiness programs to pool resources so we can ensure the people of our region, and our visitors, remain safe from this viral threat," read the task force's statement, which adds "our ability to quickly con- tain any outbreak will be determined by how efficiently we can pool informa- tion and capacities - this agreement allows us to plan for an emergency and move our resources rapidly." Dr. Lisa Indar, CARPHA's Assistant Director for the Surveillance, Disease Prevention & Control Division, explained that the organizations already collab- orate, but in view of the spread of the virus in other regions, CARPHA and other task force organizations wanted to proactively solidify cooperation and ensure the task force had what it needed to keep COVID-19 from threatening the health of residents and visitors and the economies of the Caribbean. The establishment of the Caribbean COVID-19 Tourism Task Force fol- lows a Special Emergency Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government with health and tourism officials and cruise associations in Barbados recently, where they agreed to set up a regional protocol with the cruise industry. As an immediate proactive measure to help fight the importation and spread of this novel viral illness, the CCTTF is urging hotel and tourism accommodation providers to register for CARPHA's Tourism Health Information System (THiS), which was developed several years ago to pro- vide support information, and to help identify and confidentially manage early warning symptoms by employees and guests in a rapid manner. Since January, many additional hotels have joined THiS. To register, visit or ( Visitors are also encouraged to self-report at and click on the self- reporting tab to the bottom left of the screen. CARIBBEAN CORNER B M & T ••• September/October ••• 22

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