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Tourism Officials Respond to Facebook Videos of Tourists Debarking Bus

Tourism officials have responded to angry feedback from some Saint Lucians to Facebook videos of tourists disembarking from a bus last Sunday in one of the communities on island.

Last Sunday, like others before it, was a no movement day, so called to restrict the movement of Saint Lucians in the hope of containing the transmission of the coronavirus on island.

Those angry Saint Lucians compared their 24-hour confinement to their homes to that of the visitors’ apparent freedom to roam the island. The comparison drew some angry retorts from them.

The Ministry of Tourism and the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) have since responded to the videos and the public backlash describing the expression of displeasure by some members of the public as ‘unkindly”.

The two entities noted that what the videos depicted was an “authorized cruise tourism operation on a “no movement Sunday”, where a bus stopped in a community for a bathroom break for some senior passengers.”

“Contrary to the opinions being expressed, we wish to inform the public that in addition to preboarding requirements, cruise passengers to Saint Lucia are met with a full complement of protocols including being fully vaccinated, negative pre-boarding testing and health screening,” the Ministry of Tourism and the SLHTA wrote in a joint statement.

According to the statement, “the government of Saint Lucia maintains that its protocols must apply to both visitors and nationals. However, in some cases exceptions are made for businesses and activities that are critical for the growth of our economy. Even when doing so, every effort is made to ensure that there are no or little health risks to nationals.”

“In our quest to protect lives and livelihoods, the Government of Saint Lucia continues to implement strict protocols to ensure health and safety whilst seeking to maintain our position as a premier cruise destination. We are cognizant that interruptions to cruise calls can result in a loss of service to the destination and thereby negatively impact the industry and its many dependents locally. It is therefore our mandate, to ensure that we continue to restore vitality to the sector while working in tandem with our cruise partners to maintain the highest standards of safety. It is why we have insisted that all passengers are vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 test when embarking,” said Dr. Ernest Hilaire, Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture, and Information.

Chairperson of Saint Lucia’s National COVID-19 Management Center Cletus Springer also spoke on the matter Monday in a Facebook post.

“We will also be reviewing our communications systems and procedures. As Chairman of the CMC, I offer sincere apologies to fellow Saint Lucians for the lapse in communication which may have fueled the public’s angst yesterday (Sunday).

“My read of the policy to allow cruise ship to call under strict conditions is to give some relief, however small, to long-suffering service providers. Of course, when cruise ships call during working hours there is no problem. The problem, as shown yesterday (Sunday) is when they call during confinement periods. We will give more thought to this in our meeting on Wednesday, Springer wrote in the Facebook post.

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