TT has endorsed and agreed to implement the World Travel and Tourism Council's (WTTC) “safe travels” stamp.
It's a process that has been under way for some time, and in an implementation guide issued in October 2020, Tobago was listed as an example of active engagement among countries which have agreed to the protocols. There are 275 destinations using the stamp globally, including Barbados and Jamaica.
Tobago was awarded its Safe Travels stamp in March 2021, and by the end of April, the Tobago Tourism Agency announced that 150 businesses on the island had earned the compliance certification.
In the Tobago example offered in the inspections guidebook, stakeholders using the stamp must continuously meet the requirements of an approved health and safety manual and be subject to random spot checks for compliance. Other systems to ensure adherence with required covid19 protocols rely on customer-generated data, usually through a reporting app, which gathers compliance information.
The stamp's success depends on private-sector enthusiasm for adhering to the health and safety protocols outlined by the WTTC. Key to its validity is a regime of active compliance practised by the private sector and monitored diligently by governments and stakeholder representatives.
This isn't another award to stick on a wall and feel proud about. It demands that visitors, businesses, their workers and the governments that depend on tourism revenue ensure that the accreditation standards are actively and consistently enforced.
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts is still to announce its monitoring and auditing programme to ensure compliance among local tourism and hospitality businesses.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has its own health and safety regime, the Healthier Safer Tourism (HST) stamp, which insists that "recommended proactive covid19 health monitoring and safety measures" must be enforced at the level of individual hospitality and tourism businesses and locations.
HST-approved locations will be positively indicated as “preferred locations” on the Caribbean Traveller's Health Mobile App, a software tool to guide travellers. To date, 13 TT businesses have acquired HST certification.
Tourism Trinidad is reportedly currently engaged in what it described as "familiarisation sessions" that will guide hospitality and tourism-site workers on approved covid19 health and safety protocols, and has trained 400 workers from the sector.
These certification systems are likely become dynamic targets for businesses to hit, evolving and adapting as more becomes known about the virus and how to prevent or reduce its transmission.
That means as a matter of necessity creating effective and continuous training, monitoring and enforcement of these protective measures if they are to prove effective in increasing tourism travel when tourism to TT becomes feasible again. It's certain that the WTTC, which hopes to revive recreational and business travel globally, will insist on it.