File photo. This is what tourists will see in St. Lucia, if they come to the island that has very low levels of Covid-19 infections.

Soufriere,St. Lucia–September 11th, 2020–Saint Lucia’s success in managing Covid-19 is due in part to ensuring that visitors present negative Covid-19 test results before entry, says Prime Minister Allen Chastanet who, is optimistic that the Caribbean’s tourism industry will emerge even stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr. Chastanet, who led the drafting of protocols for tourism for CARICOM is resolute that pre-testing is the ace card for the travel and tourism industry across the world.

Noting Saint Lucia’s own success with insisting that all visitors present negative covid-19 test results before entering the country, Chastanet said this model will instill confidence to all stakeholders including the economies of source markets.

Practicing what it preaches, St. Lucia has made Covid-19 PCR testing available for all local residents who need tests for traveling overseas, at a cost of EC$267 or US$100. Swabbing for the PCR test will be available every day at the Respiratory Hospital from 2 to 3 p.m.

Saint Lucia has welcomed some 6000 visitors since reopening its borders, however this is a massive decline in arrivals of more than 80 percent over 2019.

What really reveals the true devastation to the island’s economy is that government revenue is also down between 50 to 60 percent, and government’s efforts at reducing the unemployment rate from 25 percent to 16 percent has regressed, with thousands of workers left jobless as a result of Covid-19.

More than 30 million people visited the Caribbean in 2019 contributing nearly 60 billion us dollars to the region’s gross domestic product, but 2020 is heading towards an almost total washout for the region in spite of several innovative programs to try to attract visitors from overseas for vacations or to stay for months and work online.

Lack of tourists means that many Caribbean residents are out of work or underemployed and that government tax revenues are down, making it hard for governments to help out the worst affected without borrowing money, which will have to be paid back with interest in the future.