Monday 6 April, 2020

Local tourism officials gear up against coronavirus

The Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association (SLHTA) met recently with the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Health and other stakeholders in the tourism sector to discuss implications of the Coronavirus outbreak on the tourism sector.

According to Chief Executive Officer at Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association, Noorani Azeez, the SLHTA paid specific attention to data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and got guidance from the chief medical officer and her team on what would be the next ideal steps for wider engagement for hospitality professionals.

“Two of the things we have earmarked as immediate steps would be major meetings with tourism and hospitality professionals scheduled for Wednesday this week.”

Officials from the Ministry of Health, he says, will engage senior-level professionals within the accommodation sector; inclusive of both members and non-members of the SLHTA.

The death toll from the epidemic rose to 908, all but two in mainland China, on Sunday as 97 more fatalities were recorded. The virus has spread to at least 27 countries and territories, including Canada since it was first discovered in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.

Already the tourism sector has been impacted by several cruise ships reporting cases of the virus. As a result, vessels are being at various points of entry across the globe.

According to Mr Azeez, education on the matter is highly important.

“We are going to filter information through to team members enabling them to identify signs or instances that may be of importance, helping them to spread the whole message of proper hygiene, proper management of engagement with individuals so that we can get that level of preparedness up and running.”

Last week, a cruise ship was denied entry into Saint Lucia after several reports of respiratory problems onboard.

This was in addition to at least four Saint Lucian nationals who were returning from China were quarantined at their homes.

The Ministry of Health has assured the public that all the necessary protocols are in place to safeguard against the Novel Coronavirus.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: