When Can We Return To The Caribbean? – Forbes

Posted: May 19, 2020 at 5:55 pm

BOM Villa, St. Barths.

Tourism is the lifeblood of the Caribbean but the coronavirus pandemic has sealed off the region and it remains off limits to travelers. The good news is that lockdown in the islands has resulted in relatively few cases of COVID-19.

The Caribbean islands reacted early and swiftly to the crisis, they are used to hurricanes and I think that helped, says Thom Dunaway, CEO of WheretoStay.com, which has been renting villas in the Caribbean since 1995. Consequently islands like Turks &Caicos, St John, USVI, and Anguilla have had less than a dozen cases.

Reopening is still very much up in the air and dependent on the government restrictions on each island. Even so, Dunaway offers some predictions for summer travel.

Some people will start arriving on certain islands in June as long as flights carrying leisure travelers are welcome, Dunaway speculates. We anticipate more of a surge in July, and by August we fully intend to be quite busy with arriving guests. Again, this is all dependent on the success of the gradual reopening of the US economy without further spikes in COVID-19 cases resulting in a return to restrictions.

Indeed on May 18, the island of Saint Lucia announced the first phase of its reopening for tourism, starting June 4. On that day, Phase One of the reopening includes welcoming international flights at Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) from the United States only. Visitors will be required to present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding their flight.Upon arrival in Saint Lucia, all travelers must continue the use of face masks and physical distancing and are subject to screening and temperature checks by port health authorities.

Hawksbill, Turks and Caicos

On Saint Lucia, as on other Caribbean islands, villa rentals are likely to be in great demand once travel is allowed to slowly resume.

We have had requests each day all through April, with many people ready to travel the first day the travel restrictions are lifted, airports reopen and flights are Caribbean bound, Dunaway says. There are many Americans that have the 'I'm coming unless they stop me attitude.

Villas offer space for families, private grounds and typically come with a pool. They offer a controlled environment where its much easier to practice social distancing from neighbors.

The added benefit of private homes being separate from, let's face it, other people, makes it the sensible choice for many who want to travel once its possible, Dunaway says. We anticipate the flood gates will open with many people more than ready and willing to head to the Caribbean.

Nevaeh Villa, Anguilla

He points out that his villa management teams on the islands are predominantly locals who are still residing on the island.

Hotels have had to furlough many international staff who have returned to their home countries, Dunaway notes. This makes ramping up hotels a much slower process as they have to entice staff to return. Our villas on every island are essentially ready and waiting.

Ramping up cleaning and social distancing policies at each property is critical, Dunaway notes. As an example, he cites the new policies of one of their property managers in St Martin, from mask-wearing to cleaning all surfaces with hospital-grade disinfectants. Handles and ramps will be cleaned with disinfecting wipes and automatic hand sanitizing dispensers will be installed in the laundry and the kitchen. The detergents for the washing machines and for the dishwashers will be hospital-grade disinfectants. Housekeepers will be equipped with masks and gloves and A/C filters will be regularly cleaned and disinfected. A total disinfection of the property can be done upon request prior to the guests arrival at an extra cost.

WheretoStay.com has begun rolling out a series of deals and enticements to return, once travelers are given the green light. There are some properties that are discounting their rates up to 30% for the rest of 2020 and some through 2021. Other properties are offering a more flexible payment plans with final payments closer to time of travel. In addition, there are other properties that have come up with flexible cancellation and re-scheduling options.

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When Can We Return To The Caribbean? - Forbes

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