Strengthening Partnerships for Healthier, Safer Caribbean Tourism

Travel and tourism is the business of the Caribbean; however, outbreaks of communicable diseases and other health threats have resulted in closures of hotels and cruise ports, and significant losses in revenue. These threats seriously impact the health and safety of visitors and locals, and the sustainability of Caribbean tourism.

The health of Caribbean economies is closely related to the health of its tourism industry given that the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world.  High and increasing numbers of visitors to the Caribbean increases the health, safety and security risks to both local and visitor populations.  

“We are at a cross roads, a movement of strengthening collaboration to drive towards a sustainable program for which we need everyone to be on board, said Dr. C. James Hospedales, CARPHA Executive Director.  He further stated, “there is a need for an all-inclusive approach to address the health, food safety and environmental sanitation solutions to the threats impacting the sustainable tourism in the Caribbean.” 

Dr Hospedales was speaking at the opening of the 2nd Regional Tourism and Health Stakeholders Workshop, hosted by CARPHA.  The event was held at the Hilton Trinidad on December 6-7, 2018.  

In his feature address, the Honourable Terrance Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, Trinidad and Tobago said, “the health and safety of all our citizens as well as persons who may visit on vacation, business or for other reasons, is a critical responsibility that is shared by several government and non-governmental agencies.”  Minister Deyalsingh commended CARPHA, CTO and CHTA for spearheading the program as “it is imperative that as a region, we have good standing with the international population, should we desire to maintain our current tourism industry rating.”

Ms. Rocio J Medina-Bolivar, Inter-American Development Bank Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago stated that the Tourism and Health Program was funded from the Regional Public Goods initiative of the IDB.  Ms. Medina-Bolivar said “the IDB was so encouraged with the implementation and results of the THP so far, that in October this year, a Phase II of the project was approved.  This second phase will seek to improve the capacity of the participating countries to fully operationalize and sustain the implementation of the Tourism Health Information, Monitoring and Response System.”

A total of 70 participants including 11 countries and 13 health and tourism agencies participated in the 2-day workshop.  Delegates included Chief Medical Officers and Permanent Secretaries of Tourism, and representatives from CARICOM, Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA). Delegates from international health and tourism agencies such the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Public Health Agency of England (PHE), and the Pan America Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) also attended.

The objectives of the workshop were to conduct a stakeholder review of the outputs, successes and challenges of Phase I of the IDB-funded THMRS program.  Participants also discussed the development of a THP Private Public Partnership/Collaboration Agreement.  Additionally, the workshop sought to conduct stakeholder consultations on the activities of THP/THMRS Phase II, focusing on sustainable implementation; and to review the THP Healthier, Safer, Destination Recognition Incentive.

CARPHA Head of Tourism and Health Program, Dr Lisa Indar underscored the THP as the first Caribbean-wide multi-sectoral programme which has set a precedent for improving sustainable tourism.  “There is no better time than now, as new threats to health and travel in the region emerge and in this era of real time, instant information flow, for creating mechanisms for monitoring and responding to tourism health and safety threats,” said Dr Indar.

She further added, “There is need for an Integrated Solutions focusing on monitoring and responding to travel/tourism related public health crises, training in food safety and environmental sanitation, health, safety and environmental sanitation (HSE) standards and partnerships.”

More information about the CARPHA Tourism and Health Program can found here

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