As of July 19, 2021, fully vaccinated travelers must have a rapid antigen test at the port of entry ($50 fee) with results available in approximately 35 minutes. All travelers must show a PCR test or rapid antigen test within five days of arrival and vaccinated travelers must show proof of vaccination. For travelers partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, there is a seven-day quarantine required. Visitors must also have proof of medical insurance that includes coverage for COVID-19, and they must register on the online portal within five days of the scheduled travel date to obtain a Traveler Authorization Certificate ($35 for vaccinated visitors; $105 for others). Fully vaccinated travelers with one or more unvaccinated children between 5 – 17, will be tested upon arrival and receive a second test on the 4th day.
The curfew extends from 7 PM – 5 AM through July 23 (and maybe extended). All restaurants (including dining options located in hotels and restaurants) are restricted to takeout only. All businesses are limited to 65 people at a time and subject to social distancing. All ferries are limited to 65 passengers at any one time. Salons, gyms, bars, clubs, and entertainment venues are closed through July 23 and may be extended.
Before the pandemic the BVI GDP ranked third in the world for dependency on tourism (almost 2 in every 3 jobs were related to tourism-WTTC); however, the island nation is resourceful and has turned to its financial services sector to help alleviate the economic strain.
For an industry worth more than US$25 billion, the absence of planning is astonishing. Very few countries are publicly stating their marketing goals and objectives for 2022 and beyond although post-pandemic research suggests changing tourist needs and wants that focus on health, safety, and a sustainable environment. In addition, tourists are interested in small and personalized tours and experiences that go beyond traditional sun, sea, and sand.
Although parts of the Caribbean tourism sector are slowly adding visitor arrivals, the actual value of the tourism economy is declining and has been since 2007 with annual visitor spending disappearing by US$5 billion. Sadly, governments ignore this distressing reality… that income is falling, and profitability has yet to reach pre-2007 levels. According to the Caribbean Council, this suggests that the region is becoming less competitive in comparison to other destinations and current levels of tourism employment and tax revenue may not be sustainable (caribbean-council.org).
Will government, private, and public sector leaders take advantage of the opportunity to review and create enhanced economies, using the pandemic as “lessons learned?” Will the now evident vulnerabilities be acknowledged in order to eliminate (or at least mitigate) future shocks?
Some research suggests that a possible pathway to the future lies in the development of agritourism, encouraging increased affiliation within tourism sector partners (i.e., hotels, tourism, agriculture, food/beverage/restaurants) with agribusinesses. Increasing island agriculture can also provide additional jobs and a positive revenue stream throughout a mix of education and income levels while providing food security.
Until the leaders in the public and private sectors share their mission statements and provide views of their marketing plans for next year and the next decade, we are left to prayer beads, crystal balls, and the wisdom of Bob Dylan:
“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.”
― Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One
© д-р Елинор Гарели. Тази статия с авторски права, включително снимки, не може да бъде възпроизвеждана без писмено разрешение от автора. Juergen Steinmetz contributed to the story with items highlighted with a blue background.