Global Travel Body Rejects Vaccine As Travel Requirement

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COVID-19 vaccinations must not become a requirement for international travel, Vice President for Government Affairs at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Lola Una Cardenas told the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) yesterday.

Cardenas, who was part of a CTO seminar on Caribbean vaccinations, said given the uncertainty surrounding the supply of vaccines in general and especially to regions like the Caribbean, requiring vaccinations could stymie the rebound of tourism.

“The main reason is the lack of supply,” said Cardenas. “So, we should not discriminate against those who wish to travel that have not been vaccinated.”

She contended that the region and indeed the world, should begin to co-exist with COVID-19 and for now, allow for the movement of people who can produce a negative test during the time of travel.

Cardenas also added that all travelers should be subject to the same rules until the science surrounding the vaccine proves virus transmission is not a risk still posed by those who have been vaccinated.

Last year the WTTC added The Bahamas to its ‘Safe Travel’ list and Cardenas said destinations should continue to find ways to market themselves as safe destinations. Director of the Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Dr. Lisa Indar, who was also a speaker at the CTO seminar, said it is anticipated that six vaccines will come to the Caribbean through the COVAX facility by March or April, that will allow for the vaccination of 20 percent of islands’ populations.

Indar explained that when the vaccines do arrive to the region, there would likely be a focus on first vaccinating frontline workers, doctors, nurses and those people most at risk.

While the concern exists that the Caribbean and other countries could suffer a lack of vaccines due to hoarding by larger nations, she said, “We have to trust that the COVAX facility works and that it will get to us.”

Chester Robards
The Nassau Guardian
Published: January 28, 2021