(MENAFN- Caribbean News Global) CASTRIES, Saint Lucia – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), through its Regional Tourism and Health Program, and the Commission of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), seek to restore the confidence of travelers in the Eastern Caribbean.

The OECS Commission is committed to supporting the implementation of the Tourism and Health Program (THP) of CARPHA in its member states. In doing so, formalized its collaboration by signing a letter of agreement, at the headquarters of the OECS Commission in Saint Lucia on Friday, September 17, 2021.

The new Tourism and Health Program (THP) is expected to support a travel and tourism product that is safe, secure and provides an authentic and meaningful experience for travelers to the region while protecting the health and well-being of locals. The program is expected to align the private sector with strong common standards to ensure the safety of its workforce and travelers, making the sector more responsive to the new ‘COVID-19 normal’, as well as to emerging threats to the world. health.

This includes:

  • Healthier, safer and better quality tourism product and destination;
  • Capacity building in food safety, health and environmental sanitation;
  • Industry-wide real-time early warning and response monitoring (THiS) system to prevent and reduce the spread of disease and negative publicity;
  • Increase in notoriety, comparative advantage, and therefore the market value of travel and tourism in the OECS.

Dr Lisa Indar, Director of Disease Surveillance, Prevention and Control of CARPHA, speaking during CARPHA’s recent courtesy visit to the Director General of OECS, said.

“THP supports the livelihoods of thousands of people and helps improve the safety, quality, competitiveness, reputation, resilience and sustainability of Caribbean tourism. Dr Indar stressed: “People need to be assured that when the traffic light system changes, they can choose a healthier and safer option when coming to the Caribbean. “

OECS Director General Dr Didacus Jules said: “As tourism dependent nations, this initiative is essential to optimize recovery efforts and promote the OECS as a healthier and safer destination then. that countries reopen to tourism. This process with CARPHA began in 2017 with the approval of the OECS Council of Health Ministers and was subsequently supported by the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers in 2018.

“It is important to note that our modus operandi is to work transversally. The approval of the two ministerial councils was an important principle to ensure the effectiveness of the initiative. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the critical importance of program implementation. We congratulate Saint Lucia on being the first OECS country to fully engage in the implementation process. “

The THP addresses threats to sustainable tourism in the Caribbean through an integrated approach combining surveillance (real-time tourism surveillance system for early warning and response, regional guidelines for disease management); Capacity building (certification crucial to promote a healthier, safer and better quality tourism product); Health, safety and environmental standards; Healthy Workforce (training to support prevention, appropriate response and mitigation of disease and epidemics) and Recognition (Safer Tourism for Health (HST) stamp awarded). This is a strong, measurable and verifiable traveler health insurance and recognition award for tourism entities and destinations that implement THP’s proactive tourism health measures. The stamp has received support from the Caribbean Health and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the Caribbean Tourism Association (CTO).

In the OECS member states, THP now has more than 670 tourist facilities registered on THiS; 6,662 tourism workers have been trained on CARPHA’s COVID-19 guidelines for reopening tourism and travel in the Caribbean, and 59 facilities have received the HST stamp.

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