PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago –- As part of its ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and other public health threats, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is preparing to officially launch two important initiatives to protect the Region’s tourism sector and safeguard the health and safety of residents and visitors.
Dr. Joy St. John, CARPHA’s Executive Director, explained that the new tools, which will debut November 5, are part and parcel of CARPHA’s Traveler’s Health Program (THP), which provides an early monitoring and response system to public health issues that impact tourism.
The THP, set up several years ago by CARPHA, is a key outcome of a unique partnership established six years ago to bridge collaboration between health and tourism authorities aimed at safeguarding the health of travellers and employees in the hospitality industry.
The Caribbean Travelers Health Assurance stamp for Healthier Safer Tourism (HST) is a measurable and verifiable recognition award for tourism entities and destinations that are implementing the recommended proactive COVID-19 health monitoring and safety measures.
“Caribbean travellers now have the added assurance of a healthier, safer option for accommodations (hotels, guesthouses) and services (transport, tour operators) awarded the HST stamp,” said Dr. St. John, who noted the stamp has been officially approved by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the region’s preeminent tourism bodies.
The public health expert explained that hospitality facilities awarded the HST stamp will be listed as preferred options on the Caribbean Traveler’s Health Mobile App. Awardees will also later be listed on the websites of CARPHA and CHTA, with links to regional and international health and tourism stakeholders.
The Caribbean Traveler’s Health Mobile App is a unique, multifaceted, health information repository, designed for travelers and health and tourism stakeholders. It provides travel health information by each Caribbean destination (inclusive of vaccination requirements, health care facilities, accommodations listings), health alerts of current public health issues, COVID-19 proactive/prevention measures, and travel requirements by country (testing, health screening, pre-approval, and tracking). It links directly to CARPHA’s COVID-19 situation reports, guidelines, and the THP. The app also identifies accommodations and other hospitality facilities within a destination that have been awarded the Caribbean Travelers Health Assurance stamp.
Dr. Lisa Indar, Director of Surveillance and Head of the THP, explained that the app will be expanded next year to include cruise ships that have been awarded the stamp. “CARPHA is uniquely resourced and positioned to provide reliable travelers health information of this detail and magnitude,” she added, explaining that the app has been designed for both iOS and Android platforms.
In addition to the stamp and the app, CARPHA’s Proactive COVID-19 Health Measures for Tourism are aimed at building travelers’ assurance, tourism resilience, and regional health security. The measures include utilizing the Tourism and Health Information System (THiS), a web-based, early warning and response information system to capture illnesses in real-time and thereby reduce spread and reputational damage; certified training in COVID-19 health measures for the hospitality sector (including testing, masks, social distancing, handwashing hygiene, sanitization, and response from visitor arrival to departure); guidelines and checklists; hospitality health, safety and environmental sanitation (HSE) operational standards.
CARPHA is a global pioneer in tourism-health partnerships, having worked with tourism stakeholders in the Caribbean over the past six years on health safety, education and training matters. Earlier this year in March, CARPHA partnered with CTO, CHTA, the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center (GTRCMC), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission (OECS) to form the COVID-19 Tourism Task Force to launch Caribbean health, safety and sanitation guidelines and training for thousands of the Region’s tourism employees.