The CEO of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) has indicated that officials here welcome the move by the United States to lift COVID-19 testing requirements for incoming air travellers.
Lorine Charles-St. Jules told the New York Post that local officials were already hearing feedback from travel advisors who are happy over the development.
“Eliminating the testing requirement could spur further growth in international travel for Saint Lucia, the Caribbean, and all international destinations that appeal to the American market,” Charles-St. Jules told the U.S. publication.
The United States is Saint Lucia’s primary tourist market.
The New York Times quoted Marc Casto, chairman of the board of the American Society of Travel Advisors, saying that scrapping the COVID-19 test requirement was ‘monumental.’
Casto told the publication that American travelers had held off on overseas vacation plans because of the mandate.
He explained that the travellers were worried about being stuck in foreign countries if they discovered they were infected and would have to pay thousands of dollars in hotel fees and other expenses.
As of Sunday, June 12, 2022, air passengers will not need to get tested and show the COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States.
In making the announcement on Friday, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the COVID-19 pandemic had shifted to a new phase.
On its official website, the centre cited the widespread uptake of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, the availability of effective therapeutics, and the accrual of high vaccine- and infection-induced immunity at the population level in the United States as reasons for withdrawing the testing requirement.
“Each of these measures has contributed to lower risk of severe disease and death across the United States,” the CDC stated.
Travel industry officials had criticised the testing requirement asserting that it was unnecessary and negatively impacting travel.