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Background
 

The Regional Tourism and Health Program (THP) is a novel, innovative, multi-sectoral, multifaceted program.  It aims to strengthen regional and national health systems by addressing the health, safety and environmental sanitation (HSE) threats to tourism.  Enhancing the health and safety of visitors and locals, regional and global health security, and the quality, reputation and sustainability of Caribbean tourism are its main objectives.

It was established in January 2014 and is being executed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in collaboration with Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO),Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and countries.

Enhancing sustainable tourism is essential for promoting economic development, poverty eradication and improvement of quality of life as set out in the Caribbean’s Tourism Strategic Plan and the Nassau Declaration on Tourism (2014), and as emphasized by World Tourism Organization (WTO) and  Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

High and increasing numbers of visitors to the Caribbean region increase the health, safety and security risks to local populations. This is evident through the introduction and spread of new and re-emerging diseases by visitor populations, such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), H1N1, Chikungunya, Zika, Norovirus, Measles and the novel coronavirus CoVID-19 pandemic.

 Regional solution: To strengthen Member States’ capacity to prepare for and respond to public health threats like COVID-19, which can transcend national boundaries and negatively affect access to goods and services. CARPHA has developed the following regional public health goods (RPGS) which have the potential to strengthen regional health security,

The THP is strengthening countries’ capacities to provide cost-effective, quality solutions to health, safety and environmental sanitation (HSE) threats to tourism via the following tools:

  • Real time, web based, early warning and response travel/tourism information system (www.this.carpha.org) to capture illnesses in real time and trigger a rapid and coordinated response
  • Integrated THP surveillance system: A comprehensive network of traveler’s health information from THiS (for air travelers) hospitals/health centers, accommodations, cruise ships, laboratories and environment, media reports and public health agencies via the Caribbean Travel health Network (CATHNET)
  • Regional Guidelines for science based harmonized response to travel-related public health issues occurring among visitors to the Caribbean arriving by sea (passenger ships) and air (accommodations).
  • Capacity building and Certification: Train the trainer advanced food safety, environmental sanitation, prevention and response to illness outbreaks, mosquito borne infections & Globally recognized certification
  • Caribbean wide, “clean, green and safe” Hospitality Health Safety and Environmental (HSE) standards
  • Multisectoral regional and international partnerships with health and tourism stakeholders for seamless information flow and response to traveler’s illness across regional and international borders..
  • Regional Policy to promote reporting of illness from hospitality sector to national health authorities.
  • Sustainable mechanisms for national implementation of the THP as part of countries’ overall health and surveillance systems.
  • CARPHA/CTO/CHTA recommended “Healthier Safer Destination Recognition award for facilities (hotels, guesthouses) and destination; grading system based on the use of THIS, HSE standards, policy etc.
  • Caribbean Travelers Health app.
Overall Goal and Strategy

Goal

To Improve the health, safety, quality and sustainability of the Caribbean tourism industry and thereby contribute to the industry being more competitive, resilient and sustainable.

Strategy

Integrated Health, Safety and Environment management approach of combining training, surveillance, monitoring and response, standards implementation and research to address the critical link between health and tourism.

Why the Need for a Regional Tourism & Health Programme
 
  • Caribbean: most tourism-dependent region in the world.
  • Tourism is a priority, principle contributor to income, employment, foreign exchange, economic growth and has one of the highest development impact in the Caribbean.
  • In 2013, tourism accounted for 46.8M stay-over and cruise ship arrivals, generating revenues of US$28.1B and contributing to 14% of the GDP and 12.3% of total employment in the Caribbean.
  • However, the industry is vulnerable to health, safety and environmental challenges including:
    • Ongoing and costly outbreaks of food and water borne and other enteric illnesses in hotels and cruise-ships
    • Increasing violence and crime
    • Declining natural resources, environmental degradation and serious deficiencies in environmental sanitation and safety Pose serious threats to the sustainability of Caribbean tourism industry
    • High obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes among the tourism workforce
    • These problems can be largely prevented through good systems of monitoring & response, training in food safety and environmental management, standards & certification
    • Rapid detection and expert management of problems, including crisis communications, can reduce economic damage, job losses and closure
  • Addressing the health, safety and environmental (HSE) challenges affecting tourism will contribute to Caribbean tourism being more sustainable, resilient and competitive
Main Objectives
 
  • To ensure sustainable tourism by promoting a healthier, safer, more environmentally friendly tourism product.
  • To reduce foodborne and other illnesses within the tourism sector.
  • To implement food and environmental safety, training and certification.
  • To provide timely alert of public health and environmental events.
  • To support health monitoring efforts of CMS and stimulate a rapid and coordinated response.
  • To establish a credible and affordable regional certification and recognition system to improve health, safety and environmental quality in tourism.
  • To promote a healthy workforce and reduce avoidable health costs to employers.
  • To increase awareness and promote mutual understanding, partnership and collaboration at national and regional level between tourism, health and environment stakeholders to address tourism and health as a joint priority.
  • To develop partnerships, networks, resource mobilization and business strategies for sustainability of the tourism and health program.
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Areas of Focus

  • Awareness Raising and Promotion of multisectoral and multiagency collaboration among stakeholders
  • Partnerships, Networks and Business Strategies for Sustainability of the tourism industry and program
  • Food and Environmental Safety Assessment Training & Certification
  • Information, Monitoring, Surveillance and Response Systems
  • Health, Safety & Environmental Standards Certification and Recognition
  • Health and Safety in the Tourism Workplace
Expected Outcomes and Benefits
  • Healthier, safer populations; strengthened adherence to International Health Regulations (IHR), improved regional & global health security.
  • Enhanced capacity for disease surveillance and response, to mitigate against travel related HSE threats, to guide public health interventions.
  • Real time, health tracking system for timely alerts and rapid response to travel related illness.
  • Complement and strengthen CARPHA’s syndromic surveillance, increasing their ability to detect communicable diseases (CD) outbreaks and other emerging public health threats in the Caribbean.
  • Reduction in the risk posed to people in the Region by CD outbreaks and public health emergencies.
  • Strengthened preparedness for emerging diseases and public health emergencies.
  • Strengthened multi-sectoral collaboration and partnerships for addressing travel related illnesses.