By Shermain Bique-Charles
Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association, Alex Debrito, has said that there still needs to be some fine-tuning before the implementation of what the government is calling a “distress fee” for tourists.
The Cabinet said on Wednesday night that the distress fee, which will be charged to all paying customers at the nation’s luxury hotels, is a recommendation by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.
The accumulated sum is expected to be applied to the increased bill which a customer accrues if he or she tests positive for Covid and would have to remain in Antigua and Barbuda until his or her recovery as indicated by a negative test.
“We are trying to develop an insurance that can cover for them if they get sick or test positive and they need to stay over. We are dealing with a local insurance company in that regard. Conversations have started,” he said.
Meanwhile, Debrito said his priority is to ensure that all members obey the Covid-19 rules, especially the new members.
“We need to do as much as we can to stop this rise of cases, and we need to be able to control the spread of the virus on the island,” he said.
Debrito said he is worried about the workforce in Antigua and Barbuda who will not be able to survive if cases continue to rise and employment continues to fall.
“If more hotels close this year, how will our people survive? What is going to be the future of the industry?” Debrito asked.