Caribbean Travelers Gain New Health Safety Tools
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is preparing to launch important initiatives to protect the Region’s tourism sector and safeguard the health and safety of residents and visitors.
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.
Dr. Joy St. John, CARPHA’s Executive Director, explained in a press statement that the new tools, which will debut on November 5, 2020, are part and parcel of CARPHA’s Traveler’s Health Program (THP), a real-time early warning and response tourism and health information system.
The THP issues regional guidelines for response to traveler health issues in accommodation and passenger ship settings, capacity building in food safety capacity, hospitality health safety, and environmental standards.
The THP is a key outcome of a unique partnership established 6-years ago to bridge collaboration between health and tourism authorities aimed at safeguarding the health of travelers and employees in the hospitality industry.
“Caribbean travelers now have the added assurance of a healthier, safer option for accommodations and services for transport and 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.
An additional safe traveler tool is the Caribbean Traveler's Health Mobile App, 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).
The app 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.
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. The Agency is the Caribbean region's collective response to strengthening and reorienting its health system approach so that it is equipped to address the changing nature of public health challenges.
Regarding health risks in the Caribbean, the U.S. CDC has issued various Travel Alerts, such as on October 14, 2020, regarding the ongoing Dengue virus outbreak in the region.
The CDC suggests international travelers review their vaccination history with a vaccine provider at least 1-month before departure. A list of travel vaccines is published on this webpage.
Vax-Before-Travel publishes research-based travel news.