Scarborough, Tobago. The Tobago New Normal Task Force has partnered with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to equip local tourism stakeholders with the necessary information and tools to create a safer environment for all during COVID-19.
The Task Force was established by Chief Secretary and Secretary for Tourism, Culture and Transportation, the Honourable Ancil Dennis, to develop strategic plans to ensure a safe and sustainable tourism sector reopening. The membership is comprised of private and public sector tourism industry representatives as well as local health authorities and is led by Chairperson Cherry-Ann Edwards-Louis, Tourism Manager at the Division of Tourism, and Vice Chairman Dr Tiffany Hoyte, County Medical Officer of Health (Ag).
The Task Force recently collaborated with CARPHA for a two (2) day training mission on October 25th and 26th 2021 at the Magdalena Grand Beach Hotel, to get Tobago’s tourism industry stakeholders accredited with the Caribbean’s Travellers Health Assurance stamp for Healthier Safer Tourism (HST): a measurable and verifiable travellers health assurance and recognition award.
Task Force Chairperson Mrs. Cherry-Ann Edwards-Louis stated: "The Tobago New Normal Task Force is mandated to guide the sustainable recovery of Tobago's tourism sector. However, this can only be achieved through greater collaboration with all stakeholders. We have fully embraced CARPHA's Healthier Safer Tourism (HST) stamp, and we encourage tourism stakeholders to acquire this certification as it serves to ensure a healthier, safer, and more resilient tourism product.”
The HST stamp was adopted by Trinidad and Tobago as the official safety certification for local tourism operators, and is part of the multifaceted, multisectoral Regional Tourism and Health Program (THP) which addresses health, safety and environmental sanitation within the destination.
The Tobago training event saw 185 tourism industry workers in accommodation, food and beverage, transportation and tours attend interactive sessions on COVID-19 Essential Health Guidelines, and THiS Sensitization Training through a combination of virtual and limited in-person sessions hosted by CARPHA’s visiting team. The delegation included Dr. Lisa Indar, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control, Ms. Ornella Cyrus, Epidemiologist/Technical Operations Officer, and Ms. Frieda Mohammed, Healthier Safer Tourism Officer.
The initiative culminated with a critical strategy meeting among the Task Force, CARPHA’s team, and the Administrators for the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation, and the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development, to discuss the further implementation of the Regional Tourism and Health Program (THP) in Tobago, with the intention of elevating Tobago’s tourism to a higher, and safer level.
Dr. Lisa Indar of CARPHA emphasized that “The collaboration with Tobago's New Normal Task Force and the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited is critical to implement measures to revive the vulnerable tourism industry, which has faced the hardest hit of the COVID-19 pandemic. CARPHA’s THP continues to assist the industry to operate and reshape during this new normal.”
The Tobago New Normal Task Force continues to engage health and tourism partners on the island, within the Region, and around the globe in fulfilment of its mandate to guide the implementation of COVID-19 standards and protocols, in keeping with the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development, Ministry of Health, CARPHA and public health guidelines to provide visitors with the assurance that Tobago is a healthier, safer option for tourism accommodation and services.