THE CARIBBEAN tourism industry can potentially benefit from the coronavirus outbreak as US travellers – the primary source of tourists into TT – could consider shifting travel plans to the region from Asia and Europe, Tourism Trinidad acting CEO Heidi Alert said.
The industry is, however, still bracing for a “rocky ride” as the virus spreads across the world, including North America, Europe and Asia.
TT’s tourism industry must join the international tourism industry in readying itself, she added.
“We must not view the coronavirus as only a China, or Asia, or Far East health crisis, but we of ourselves must also be fully prepared.”
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced on Thursday at the post-Cabinet media briefing that in addition to China, five countries have had travel restrictions applied to them. People coming into TT from South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan and Singapore will have to spend a minimum of 14 days in quarantine, he said.
Data from Tourism Trinidad showed that visitors from the five countries with the announced restrictions made up about one per cent of all annual arrivals in the country from 2017-2019.
CEO of the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce Gabriel Faria welcomed the government’s decision to impose the 14-day travel restriction.
“While we (TT Chamber) recognise the inconvenience it could bring to business, we support the decision because of the potential risk of the virus spreading.”
Faria said most companies will recognise the restrictions as an inconvenience they are willing to bear and to his knowledge trade with the five countries has not been affected.
“In today’s digital world, a lot of people today do business through video conferencing and contracts can be signed digitally. We don’t anticipate the inconvenience being so much to risk the possibility of TT getting the virus.”
Faria said these restrictions are similar to those in other countries and commended the quarantine mechanisms present to screen TT nationals returning from countries with cases of the virus.