The Caribbean is on the hunt for visitors and vaccines against COVID-19 to restart tourism and the paralyzed economies in one of the most tourism-dependent regions of the world.
Its crystal-clear waters and warm sand attracted a record number of 31.5 million tourists in 2019, but visits fell between 60% and 80% amid the last year’s pandemic.
Frank Comito, CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, explained that visits to the region increased in November but took a turn for the worse in January, in part because the United Kingdom, the EU and Canada restricted travel as coronavirus cases surged.
“Also missing are visitors traveling on cruise ships, which before the pandemic had reached 30 million, a record number; however, the US Virgin Islands had registered an increase in flights to unprecedented levels, at least temporarily, because airlines changed flight itineraries from Europe and Asia to the Caribbean,” explained Comito.
The Indian market also helped the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, but the region is far from reaching vaccination levels necessary to achieve herd immunity of the 18 million people in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
For its part, China shipped 768,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to the Dominican Republic, a nation of 10.6 million people, which is also starting to receive shipments from AstraZeneca and Pfizer.