Hamilton, Bermuda. CARPHA continues to support Bermuda in ensuring a safer and healthier tourism destination for visitors and locals. Tourism is a critical industry for Bermuda which has faced many challenges due to the ongoing pandemic. To support the tourism recovery efforts on the island, a team from CARPHA, conducted three days of stakeholder consultations and trainings from the 25th to 27th of July 2022. The team was comprised of representatives from CARPHA’s Tourism Health Program (THP) that aims to improve the health and well-being of visitors and locals and to ensure the sustainability of the local tourism industry and economy.
The THP was initially established in Bermuda in November 2016 through the commitment of the Ministries of Health and Tourism. The recent visit, led by Dr Lisa Indar, Director of the Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division at CARPHA, was meant to re-energise the program on the island after the challenges imposed by the pandemic. The sessions brought together eighty stakeholders from a variety of industries such as tourism, hospitality, business, government, and health. One participant from the Bermuda Tourism Authority commented that the training would help them, “To be more proactive on matters related to health, to better market the island and to emphasise that Bermuda is committed to the health and safety of our visitors.”
At a Media briefing held on the third day of the visit, Hon. Jason Hayward JP MP, Acting Minister of Health, Bermuda, commented that “this programme will not only protect the health and safety of Bermuda’s visitors and locals but also protect our reputation as a healthy and safe destination.” Mr Hayward emphasized the importance of tourism to Bermuda’s economic development and explained that economic recovery would heavily depend on the recovery of this industry. He noted that “I am pleased to see the vital collaboration gathering momentum again, it will strengthen our tourism product, it will give us a competitive advantage, and most importantly it will improve the health safety and health security for all of Bermuda and our visitors.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr Ayoola Oyinloye commented that, “We have had three days of very fruitful and very encouraging discussions and trainings. It was an excellent opportunity for participation and contributions across both public and private sectors.” He explained that the aim is to make Bermuda’s tourist product more attractive, competitive, resilient, and sustainable, “We want to make sure that through these surveillance measures, we are improving the overall health of our visitors and our residents in Bermuda. We want to strengthen Bermuda’s public health framework to support tourism.”
When speaking more about the THP, Dr Indar stated that, “The programme is multifaceted, and it consists of many areas all geared towards building capacity for early warning and response.” She pointed out that both the Caribbean Vessel Surveillance System (CVSS) and Tourism Health Information System (THiS) are confidential systems meant to provide information in real time so that a rapid response can take place by health authorities. Dr Indar also highlighted the importance of the safer tourism stamp that would, “Allow a given facility to show that it is conducting proactive health measures and using systems of reporting that encourage health, so guests can be safer and healthier.” She closed by emphasizing that while the programme is meant to build capacity at the country level and CARPHA would provide technical support, the responsibility for the endeavour must be shared between the various stakeholders involved in the many arms of a visitor’s journey.
The three days of sessions focused on conducting technical guidance and training in the Caribbean Vessel Surveillance System (CVSS), Tourism Health Information System (THiS) and Regional Guidelines for improving visitor-based surveillance. The funding for this visit to Bermuda was provided by the European Union through the Eleventh European Development Fund (11th EDF) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).