Newsletter December 2021 – Advocacy
Giving Voice, Representation and Info You Can Use
CHTA assists members and industry stakeholders with numerous regional and global issues affecting the Caribbean hospitality and tourism industry that cannot always be addressed locally. Our strength in advocacy is made possible through our representation and participation with various international organizations and agencies and local hotel and tourism associations, and our data-based approach to address issues impacting the industry. Here’s a summary of key recent efforts:
Health Safety Remains Top Focus
CHTA has advanced the continuation of strong health safety measures for destinations, companies, employees and guests. This has been underpinned by an aggressive effort to train supervisors, managers and owners in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
The organization has conducted ongoing outreach to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Heads of Government, Tourism Heads and NHTAs, the British Government and the U.S. Government on matters related to protecting and recovering the industry. Key outreach focus areas have included:
- Supporting Expansion of COVID-19 Testing Labs – This was a regionwide problem earlier in the year, which CHTA weighed in on. Thanks to efforts by local governments, health authorities, and overseas support, it has become manageable.
- Successfully Advocating for Less Stringent Testing Requirements for Returning Travelers – Earlier this year CHTA appealed to the region’s governments and to the U.S., Canadian and U.K. governments to allow for antigen tests for returning travelers from the Caribbean, given their lower cost and quicker turnaround time.
- Vaccine Availability for the Caribbean – CHTA supported efforts by CARICOM and CARPHA to secure additional vaccines for the region. Thanks to efforts by local government leaders and health authorities, vaccine availability is no longer a problem for the region.
- Tourism Employees Among Highest Vaccination Rates Throughout Region – CHTA advocated local governments for tourism frontline employees to be considered high priority, high-tier, essential workers eligible for vaccinations. Workshops, public relations efforts and best practice information sharing also promoted vaccinations. These efforts have resulted in high vaccination rates within the industry, while more needs to be done to further increase those rates.
In support of tourism’s recovery, and underpinned by CHTA’s work on health safety matters, CHTA has advanced several initiatives, including ongoing communications and public relations efforts regionally and globally, directed at the trade and consumers. Specific advocacy initiatives have included:
- Outreach to U.K. Government – Providing substantiating information and data to support the opening of travel from the U.K. into the region. This helped to support the opening up of travel to a number of Caribbean destinations from the U.K.
- Outreach to U.S. Government – Reaffirming that the NAAT or antigen tests permissible by U.S. for reentry are acceptable to CARPHA, particularly given the PCR testing requirements by most Caribbean jurisdictions for entry. The U.S. Government allowed for antigen tests for returning travelers.
- Outreach to Canadian Government – Case presented for opening up borders early in 2021. No relaxation of travel until later in 2021.
- Protecting and Rebuilding Airlift – Consultations were held with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and several key airlines, providing updates on our work to date and assurances of the industry’s commitment to health safety and recovery. CHTA advocated as well to Caribbean Heads of Governments to stimulate the return of airlift through tax/fee reductions. We commended Prime Minister Gaston Browne from Antigua and Barbuda for implementing such a policy and encouraged other governments to follow suit, some of which have done so and others that are considering.
- Initial Consultation with Carnival Cruise Line – To discuss recovery, and common areas of interest and possible collaboration.
- Advancing Framework for Regional Tourism Recovery Initiative – CHTA, along with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), is part of a regional public-private sector framework established and supported by CARICOM and Heads of Government, to develop a plan to guide tourism’s recovery. An Interim Tourism Working Group (ITWG) was formed in October 2020 to work with CARICOM to develop a framework plan. A draft plan was developed, with input from CHTA and its Advocacy Committee, and a Steering Committee of CHTA and CTO representation is being formed to work on implementation.
Research: Findings Help to Drive Advocacy, Training and PR Efforts
- Periodic Industry Surveys have been conducted to help guide advocacy and training, support members and NHTAs, and support communications strategies.
- Culling of Industry and Health-Related Data – Through its partnerships and webinars, CHTA has amassed an expanded base of research which is being incorporated into industry briefings and advocacy efforts with destinations, travel partners and the media.
Appreciation to Our Partners … Collaboration is Key to Success
Collaboration underpins many of our efforts, providing two-way channels of communication aimed at sharing knowledge and information, identifying and sharing best practices, and aligning efforts globally, regionally and locally. We wish to thank our key advocacy partners which include:
- Global Partners – World Travel and Tourism Council, UN World Tourism Organization, Inter-American Development Bank, Organization of American States, International Air Transport Association, American Society of Travel Advisors, The Nature Conservancy, and Global Tourism Resiliency and Crisis Management Centre
- Regional Partners – Caribbean Tourism Organization, CARICOM, Caribbean Public Health Agency, Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, and The Caribbean Council
- Local Partners – 32 National Hotel and Tourism Associations, numerous local tourism boards and councils, and many dedicated and engaged CHTA members
As CHTA continues to advance its advocacy efforts, we welcome feedback and engagement from our members, NHTAs and partners. Efforts over the coming months are currently directed towards:
- Tourism’s Recovery
- Continuing Public Relations to Build Traveler and Trade Confidence
- Consultations with Cruise Lines and Tour Operators for Common Ground Efforts
- Advancing Training to Reinforce Health Safety and Effective Customer Relations
- Helping to Increase Industry Vaccination Rates
- Renewing Focus on Climate Change – Impact and Mitigation