Tuesday 1 December, 2020

PM Mottley: Cut travel taxes, create a safe C'bean bubble post-COVID

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley

Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley

The Caribbean needs to be a safe bubble to promote island-hopping and regional tourism as nationals and visitors fly for cheaper from territory to territory in this post-COVID-19 era.

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Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said that she and her teams are diligently working on protocols and initiatives such as the Barbados Welcome Stamp which will add value and bring tourists not only to Barbados but the region on the whole.

As she participated in CARICOM IMPACS’ five-day Virtual Security Conference on Tuesday (July 28), the PM stated government will move this week to reduce travel taxes and with regard to airlines, Barbados has an open skies approach, as far as possible, with the market determining the capacity and the ratio.

PM Mottley also made the point that officials were continuously looking for a credible rapid PCR gold-standard test that would facilitate better processing of persons through the air and sea ports.

“We are in the midst of preparing new protocols for cruise going forward because we recognise that to the extent that we can have some limited cruising from this winter onwards, we need to be able to have strong and residual protocols. But it is going to require cooperation between those home ports and those transit ports that will be facilitating the cruise and that is because, effectively, unless we create a bubble, you cannot guarantee that persons disembarking from ships are moving into a safe environment to re-embark to go to the next country.”

To solidify her point, she underscored the importance of several regional entities.

“It therefore means that if we do want to have a safe and credible cruising environment, we are going to have to use CARPHA and the CARICOM Secretariat and IMPACS as the basis, and to a lesser extent CDEMA, who does the logistical supplies and delivery for us.  We are going to have to use them more than ever,” she stated.

PM Mottley stated that the funding necessities of these entities could not be ignored as they were going beyond the call of duty to make the lives of Caribbean nationals easier.

When questioned about the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp initiative, which was recently launched, PM Mottley indicated that there had been a great response to the programme which could also be beneficial to the region.

“It starts officially from the 1st of August but the forms are out there. We have been having persons coming from both sides of the Atlantic asking questions,” she explained.

She added:

“If people come here within the bubble, I have no doubt that they are going to want to go to St George’s in Grenada or the Grenadines or Castries, or whatever, because why would I come to the Caribbean and not fully experience the Caribbean? So, we have understood this as something that will add value to everyone in the region.”

In addition to Prime Minister Mottley the discourse featured the new new CARICOM Chair Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves; Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell; and Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

The virtual conference was held under the theme: Securing Our Community Within the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond and during the 90-minute discussion, the three Prime Ministers praised the work of regional institutions such as the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the CARICOM Secretariat, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and Regional Security System (RSS).

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