BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - WITH the United States and other source markets for tourists to the Federation experiencing an uptick in the number of COVID-19 and RSV cases, Tourism Minister Marsha Henderson said they are cognizant of that and are working to find a balance.
The Government and other tourism stakeholders do not want to see drastic measures be taken that would cripple the industry locally, as it rebounds from the ravages of measures taken during the height of the pandemic, but the health of locals must be taken into consideration.
According to Henderson, just recently individuals were hospitalized and treated for the ailment after their cruise vessels were docked at Port Zante.
The Minister acknowledged that that came as the United States continues to see increasing cases of COVID, which is being attributed to a new strain of the virus.
“We are already on the ball and have prepared a policy,” the Minister told reporters following the Sod turning for a new hotel development in Frigate Bay.
She explained that discussions are being held to prevent any potential should it become a problem
“We have prepared the industry or we are preparing our stakeholders and partners who work with us in cruise tourism as to what the protocols will be, so that it doesn’t have to cause a shutdown of the industry.”
But, while noting that the Icon of the Seas is scheduled to dock at Port Zante at the end of the month, Henderson remains cautious of the threat the virus poses and talks are being had about the approach for a ceremony.
“We can’t close down the industry like we did in 2020,” the Minister said.
The Government is currently making plans for the vessel’s arrival and, when it does, they will have a ceremony to mark its docking.
St. Kitts is the first docking port, according to Minister Henderson, who noted that they hope to involve some members of the public during the ceremony which would have a 30-minute window.
However, the Minister pointed out that that is dependent on the state of play as “we do know that COVID is on the rise and we also have to take that into account”.
“Not to alarm persons, but we had a number of passengers who had to be removed from the ships as well and given care at our local hospital,” Minister Henderson disclosed.