Tobago being excluded from the Caricom travel bubble is a casualty of being in a union with Trinidad, according to vice president of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) Carol-Ann Birchwood-James.
The Caricom travel bubble went into effect on September 18, in keeping with a decision made at a Special Emergency Caricom Heads of Government Meeting.
At a press conference on Saturday, the Prime Minister said Caribbean leaders set 20 new daily infections as the target for countries to participate in the Caricom travel bubble. They believed the number was low enough that member states could “mix and mingle without resulting in an explosion.”
Dr Rowley added, “If we get down to that target of 20 infections per day or less, then we can interact with the people of Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia, and then have some type of economic contact and travel arrangements between us.”
Meeting the critieria for the bubble are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Other Caricom members can join the bubble once they fulfil the criteria.
Speaking with Newsday on Friday, Birchwood-James said, “Remember, we are Trinidad and Tobago and because of the increase in the virus cases in Trinidad especially, we are considered out of the bubble, so there is nothing that we can do. There is nothing that we can do until we open the borders and all of that and our figures would have to come down... it’s just one of the casualties of being in this union with Trinidad."
She added, “We are disappointed, yes, that we are not in the bubble but our numbers from what the authorities are saying, our numbers are too high for us to enter into that bubble.”
As of Sunday, Tobago had 14 active covid19 cases and 59 overall while the national total was 2,017 active cases and 4,321 overall.
Birchwood-James said while the association remains upset about the downfall of tourism, she called on the Government to prepare for when the international borders can be reopened. Tobago tourism has been crippled due to covid19. The cruise ship season was ended prematurely on March 12 and international borders have been closed since March 22. Travel between Trinidad and Tobago has also been restricted to essential only, shutting down the domestic tourism market as well.
Birchwood-James said, “Let us start some forward planning as to when we open the borders what are we going to do. Let us start talking to our airlines now, let’s start talking to our travel agents and so on and all of that; when we open the borders to international travel again, we would be ready.”
Chief Secretary and Secretary of Tourism Ancil Dennis said it was understandable why TT was excluded from the bubble. He noted that measures are being worked on for when the borders open.