Laboratory TechnicianThe health of Caribbean economies is closely related to the health of its tourism industry given that the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world. However, tourism is vulnerable to health, safety and environmental sanitation (HSE) public health threats, including disease outbreaks and deficiencies in environmental sanitation and food safety, impacting on regional health security and the sustainability of Caribbean tourism. To improve the health, safety, and security of visitors and locals, and thereby contribute to enhancing the quality, competitiveness and sustainability of Caribbean tourism, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) established a Regional Tourism and Health Programme (THP) in 2014 (pdf THP brochure). 

The THP is a novel, integrated, program with components of real time, early alert and response tourism based surveillance system, food safety and environmental sanitation training, HSE standards and tourism and health partnerships. Countries will have enhanced capacity to prepare for, respond and mitigate against public health threats to sustainable tourism and regional health security. This is the first Caribbean-wide and global effort of its kind, setting an international precedent.

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Tourism based Surveillance and Response system

High and increasing numbers of visitors to Caribbean (750 million in 2016), increases the health, safety and security risks to resident and visitor populations. This has been as exemplified by the introduction and spread of new and re-emerging diseases such as Norovirus, H1NI, Chikungunya and the recent Zika epidemic. However, even though more people visit the Caribbean than reside, national health monitoring surveillance systems are based on local populations and there is no real-time tourism based surveillance and response system to rapidly detect and reduce spread of public health threats across and within borders.

The tourism based surveillance and response system is an integrated early warning and response surveillance system coupled with regional guidelines to support the collection of information for timely alerts to travel-related public health issues occurring among visitors to the Caribbean arriving by sea (passenger ships) and air (airplanes and stay-overs in hotels/guesthouses), to stimulate a rapid and coordinated response. Information will also be collected from CARPHA’s laboratory, Media reports, and international health and tourism agencies that monitor traveller’s health.

Food Safety


Food safety affects the health and wealth and reputation of a facility and a country. Diarrheal illness resulting from contaminated food or water is the most common health problem faced by visitors to the Caribbean. In the last 15 years, the Caribbean has experienced an increase in the number of large and costly visitor-based outbreaks of illness, with negative impact on its tourism (inset hyperlink to table of outbreaks). From 2010-2016, over 250 outbreaks of gastroenteritis (GE) from 23 countries were reported to CARPHA, one third of which occurred in hotels/resorts, and accounting for over 25,000 cases. One outbreak in 2012 resulted in 1,256 ill persons, hotel closure and a 20% decline in arrivals. From 2000 to 2005, 56 foodborne outbreaks were reported in hotels at an estimated cost of US$250M. Investigations of FBD outbreaks have repeatedly demonstrated that they were costly, yet preventable. The root causes of these illnesses were traced to inconsistent attention to existing food and environmental safety standards, inadequately trained staff and a lack of an effective monitoring and reporting system. Reducing the incidence of FBD is therefore a continuing challenge to the Caribbean hospitality industry

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health safety and environmental sanitation Standards

Researcher in LibraryOur research is a co-ordinated contribution to the knowledge and resources of the international health community.

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“Travel and tourism is the business of the Caribbean; however, outbreaks of communicable diseases and other health threats have resulted in clos... read more...
Tourism growth and sustainability in the Caribbean face serious health, safety and environmental (HSE) threats. These include disease outbreaks and de... read more...