SCARBOROUGH, Tobago. November 2022. Building upon the Caribbean’s innovative and successful partnership between tourism and health, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has launched the first CARICOM-approved health safety and environmental (HSE) hospitality standards to improve health, safety, and environmental quality in the regional hospitality sector.
The standards – which include Food Safety and Sanitation; Energy Management; Water Treatment and Management; Sewage Treatment and Management; Solid Waste Management; Integrated Pest Management; and Environmental Management Systems – were unveiled by CARPHA at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort in Tobago on Monday 14 November 2022, with the support of senior officials of the Tobago government, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).
Dr. Joy St. John, CARPHA’s Executive Director, who earlier this year signed an agreement with CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) to further develop the standards, said these seven regional clean and green standards are a key component for providing assurances to travelers about the company’s commitment to health safety and towards avoiding or mitigating health threats to the Caribbean tourism product.
Each standard area is equipped with a checklist assessment to easily guide the industry through a process of recognizing and achieving the standards. Upon completion, the company will be eligible to receive CARPHA’s Tourism Health Program (THP) Healthier, Safer, Tourism Award.
“There is now a verifiable way of having the suite of standards act as a crucial tool for establishing the quality of Caribbean tourism,” Dr. St. John added.
Health and tourism professionals throughout the Caribbean have placed a high priority on the well-being and health safety of the industry’s employees and travelers. Through a unique partnership established by CARPHA in 2014, the Caribbean was well-positioned to rebound from the impact of COVID-19. Health safety standards specific to the pandemic and tourism were quickly put in place in 2020 and thousands of employees were trained. This contributed to the Caribbean’s ability to rebound from the pandemic, with tourism recovering faster in the region than any other area in the world.
Apart from benefits to the socioeconomic well-being of the region, the adoption and implementation of these standards by the Caribbean tourism industry will provide the opportunity for properties enrolled in the Caribbean Travelers Health Assurance Stamp for Healthier Safer Tourism (HST) to progress from the classic award to a silver award if four of the standards are met and a gold award for meeting the requirements of seven standards.
The standards are currently voluntary and certified properties that meet all seven standards will be eligible for a platinum distinction.
Dr. Lisa Indar, CARPHA’s Director of the Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control Division, who recently facilitated THP stakeholder training in preparation for the Tobago carnival last month and who spearheaded the THP from its inception in 2014, was congratulated by senior officials for her dedication and commitment to the process of standard development since 2018.
Dr. Faith B. Yisrael, Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary for Health, Wellness and Social Protection, Division of Health, Wellness and Social Protection, Tobago House of Assembly, congratulated CARPHA and its partners for developing the standards. She encouraged tourism stakeholders to utilize them and not leave them on shelves gathering dust: “If we pull together and if we actually follow these robust standards …. we would all really truly survive whatever is to come next.”
Councilor Tashia Burris, Secretary for Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation, Division of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation, Tobago House of Assembly, said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that having robust policies, standards and regulations can help save lives and livelihoods.
Neil Walters, Acting CTO Secretary General, believes the standards are another incremental step towards ensuring the future of the region’s tourism sector: “I believe we are laying the foundation for a more sustainable, world-class, regional tourism sector as this very important sector moves forward in its recovery.”
Frank Comito, Special Advisor to CHTA, which has supported the health and safety awards program from its inception, noted that the standards can uplift the tourism industry’s continued commitment to the health and safety of its employees and visitors, “which can help us to deliver our promise to the world and there is no better place for mental, physical and spiritual well-being than in the Caribbean.”