From new developments to the latest updates on flight service taking off from Canada, here’s an overview of what’s new and what you need to know about Caribbean travel.
Anguilla is enjoying some time in the spotlight as Long Bay Villas is showcased on the latest season of the popular Netflix series The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals.
Alison Ross, spokesperson for The Anguilla Tourist Board, noted the island destination is now a member of Virtuoso.
Earlier this month Anguilla’s Executive Council lifted all quarantine requirements for international leisure visitors staying at hotels or villas in exchange for testing measures.
While there are no direct flights from Canada, American Airlines is launching nonstop, twice-weekly service from Miami on Dec. 11, marking the first time Anguilla is linked to the US mainland via a direct route.
Deborah Gilharry-Arana, travel trade specialist for the Belize Tourism Board, said the destination has deployed a phased approach to reopening to ensure the safety of both visitors and locals alike.
Since Aug. 9, all travellers — regardless of their vaccination status — are able to enter with a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of travel or a rapid test within 48 hours. Tests are also available at the airport.
Gilharry-Arana outlined a number of hotel projects in the pipeline, such as a Four Seasons and a Margaritaville resort, and highlighted the recent opening of Alaia Belize, the first Marriott branded resort in Belize.
There are currently no direct flights from Canada, but she said they are in talks with WestJet to reinstate service.
“WestJet and Air Canada were two of our pre-COVID flights,” she says. “In terms of arrivals from the Canadian market, roughly 7-10% of our source market comes from Canada.”
Paul Pennicook, CEO of the Curaçao Tourist Board, said the destination is actively going after growing its share of North American travellers.
“We currently have developments in our hotel sector that are very North American friendly,” he said. “In 2022, Sandals Royal Curaçao will open in April. That is the former Santa Barbara Resort, and then the Marriott Courtyard, which is currently being built will also open in 2022.”
Meanwhile, Zoëtry Curaçao Resort & Spa is scheduled to open this November.
As for connectivity, Pennicook said they’re “beautifully set for the winter.”
For winter 2021/2022, Air Canada will have two weekly flights out of Toronto and two weekly flights out of Montreal, and WestJet will have one weekly flight out of Toronto.
Curaçao boasts a high vaccination rate with 70% of people over 16 being fully vaccinated.
Having welcomed well over 1 million visitors since the country’s borders reopened on June 15, 2020, Donovan White, Director of Tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board, said tourism to the island is recovering steadily. Notably, by restricting travel to its Resilient Corridor with health and safety protocols in place, the Caribbean destination has been able to maintain a low positivity rate of 0.4% among visitors.
“Jamaica remains open for business and continues to welcome visitors safely,” he said.
Although the Canadian market has only started to rebound more recently with the easing of restrictions, Air Canada, WestJet, Swoop, Sunwing and Transat have all come back to the destination.
“We see the level of confidence that our airline partners have placed in the destination and we take that as a shot in the arm that we can continue to invest in our marketing and our promotions in the region and we look forward to having our rebound from Canada truly begin in the winter.”
In terms of lift, one of the newest announcements is that Swoop will launch nonstop service between YYZ and Kingston Norman Manley International Airport beginning Dec. 8. This is in addition to its already existing Montego Bay service.
White noted that the annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) is set to be staged from Nov.8-10 as an in-person event for those who are able to travel from markets like the US and Canada.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Although St. Vincent and the Grenadines has had a challenging year with the pandemic and the La Soufriere volcanic eruption, Minister of Tourism Carlos James is very optimistic about the future with new developments underway and an expected 224 calls for this cruise season.
Some of the resorts in the pipeline include the debut of a Beaches on St. Vincent, marking the first Beaches in the Eastern Caribbean, a Marriott resort and a Holiday Inn Express and Suites.
Glen Beache, CEO of the SVG Tourism Authority, pointed out that Air Canada Rouge service resumes Nov. 1.
“We’re open for business,” he said. “We will bounce back better than ever.”
While some adventure and hiking trails were impacted by the eruption, Beache said most have now reopened.
Charles Lindo, Director of Tourism of the St. Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation, said the destination used the downtime during the pandemic to do some upgrades.
Sint Eustatius, better known as Stacia, features a new F.R. Roosevelt Airport terminal building as well as a new AFISO tower.
Also notable is the opening of the island’s first-ever luxury resort: Golden Rock Resort Dive and Nature Resort, which has elevated the exposure of the destination to a more global scale.
Saint Lucia’s Minister for Tourism Dr. Ernest Hilaire reported record breaking overnight stays in July and August, “year-on-year even exceeding our 2019 milestones.”
Air Canada will resume nonstop service from Toronto to Saint Lucia (UVF) once-a-week every Sunday starting Oct. 3, then increasing frequency to two weekly flights (Fri/Sun) from Oct. 31. The winter schedule will include four weekly flights as of Dec 25 (Tue/Wed/Fri/Sun).
On Nov. 7, WestJet will resume its service from Toronto to Saint Lucia, initially operating once-a-week (every Sunday) and then increasing frequency to three weekly flights (Sun/Thurs/Sat) beginning the week of Dec. 12.
Sunwing is also set to resume nonstop service to from Toronto to Saint Lucia starting on Nov. 6 (every Saturday).
Canadian visitors must obtain a negative PCR test within five days before travel to Saint Lucia.
Senator Lisa Cummins, Barbados’ Minister of Tourism and International Transport, is looking forward to reversing the significant decline in Canadian arrivals now that lift is ramping up again. Air Canada is already serving the destination with three weekly flights on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and she anticipates WestJet service will resume in time for the festive season.
Cummins said they’ve done an extensive audit of tourism attractions, restaurants, bars, taxis and beaches to ensure a heightened sense of safety and cleanliness across the board.
One of the latest upgrades on the hotel front is the expanded South Seas Village at Sandals Royal Barbados, which debuted 66 new suites as well as two new pools.
Notably, Barbados’ government updated its entry travel protocols back in July so that travellers who received mixed vaccine doses, like many Canadians, are considered fully vaccinated.
On-island testing is available at The Crane and Sandals Barbados for non-guests as well.
The Dominican Republic is making it easier for Canadians to catch some rays on beaches in the likes of Punta Cana and Puerto Plata.
Authorities report that PCR tests are not required on arrival and as regular flights resume from major cities to the popular airport hubs, visitors will have a random temperature check and breath tests administered at the airport upon landing. Prior to their incoming and outgoing flights, visitors will be required to complete a user-friendly arrival e-ticket – eTicket (migracion.gob.do) – that includes a health declaration and immigration information. The protocols have been created to “be the most straightforward and easy to understand in the entire Caribbean.”
“People are exhausted and they want to feel the sun on their faces in a safe environment they can enjoy at a reasonable price. For the past year, we have been working hard behind the scenes to enact safety measures in all sectors – including tours, food and beverage, airports and hospitality – to be ready when travel resumes. We are proud to say we can now confidently welcome our Canadian friends and return visitors ‘home’ to the Dominican Republic this fall and winter,” said tourism minister David Collado.