Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee, asserting that COVID-19 has highlighted a ‘profound correlation’ between tourism and health, declared Monday that Saint Lucia’s stringent protocols in regard to the virus have been vindicated.
“What we have seen during this pandemic is that if our health care is not in order, then it is not possible to ensure that we bolster very important economic industries like tourism,” the Minister told reporters.
“This is a testimony to our insistence that we have a pre-testing regime,” Fedee noted.
He said members of the media would recall that authorities here were hauled over the coals by many stakeholders locally and internationally for this country’s rigid pre-testing mechanism to sustain the opening of the tourism sector.
“Today I would like to say that we have been vindicated by ensuring that we stay the course and remain very strict as it pertains to the pre-testing protocol,” the Tourism Minister observed.
“We have seen that some of our Caribbean brothers and sisters, on attempting to open, unfortunately did not have the rosiest of times where they have had to start and stop,” he told reporters.
“We are very pleased and happy that we have had a consistent flow once we operationalised our opening of tourism on July 9.”
According to Fedee, the setting up of a facility at Hewanorra International airport has helped.
He described the screening there as being world class.
“The processing of passengers coming in has helped to protect the health and safety of our people,” Fedee noted.
He reiterated that the health of Saint Lucians is paramount.
“While we are very mindful that thousands are still unemployed and hundreds more are looking for jobs, we had to prioritise the safety and the health of the country generally, but also those individuals who are out of work,” Fedee told reporters.
He said as a result, Saint Lucia adopted a very responsible kind of tourism which so far has yielded significant dividends.
The Minister disclosed that so far some 5,000 visitors have been recorded since July 9, which means that the country is up to about 10 percent of its pre-COVID capacity.
He said 13 hotels have already opened their doors, providing employment for over 2000 persons, while some 500 taxi drivers have been operationalised.
But he made it clear there is a lot of catching up to do by continuing to build that momentum.