Hoteliers react to removal of vaccination rule for tourists

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Sixty percent of hoteliers surveyed said they were either happy to accept unvaccinated guests or ambivalent to the policy (Photo courtesy TripAdvisor)
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By Theresa Goodwin

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Most local hoteliers are said to be on board with government plans to end the existing requirement for tourists to be fully vaccinated against Covid in order to enter the country.

Cabinet announced yesterday that as of April 13 all persons entering Antigua and Barbuda, subject to evidence of any new variant of the virus, will be allowed to do so without vaccination.

Those who are unjabbed will however be required to present a negative Covid test, taken no more than four days before travel.

People employed in the hospitality sector have been strong proponents of the mandatory vaccination policy for all arriving guests into the country, and were among those to make such a recommendation to the government of Antigua and Barbuda.

Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) Vernon Jeffers Snr told Observer yesterday that a survey was conducted earlier this week to gauge the views of ABHTA members.

Out of that exercise, some 40 percent of property owners said they would have preferred that the policy remains in place, 30 percent said they would accept unvaccinated guests as long as a testing regime is implemented, while the remainder said they would accept whatever is put in place.

“There might very well be some hotels, within the minority, which will perhaps decide to stick with only accepting persons who are vaccinated. So, it’s a wait-and-see to find out how it will impact occupancy for our members,” Jeffers Snr said.

Recently the government reversed the vaccine entry requirement for nationals and residents.

All this comes at a time when tourism officials are reporting healthy arrival figures.

Information contained in the weekly Cabinet notes indicates that American Airlines continues to bring full flights to Antigua, and that carrier lands four flights on some days from Miami, New York and Charlotte. 

It was also noted that hotels continue to experience high occupancy rates, and the spillover into restaurants, places of entertainment, and car rentals continues to grow.

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