The resort/villa bubble concept is only a first step towards a broader reopening of tourism in the Cayman Islands. Other islands have taken different approaches to expand the access of visitors to other attractions and experiences.
In Jamaica, the concept of a “resilient corridor” has been developed. Visitors are allowed to leave their resorts, but their movement is managed along a stretch of road from Negril through Port Antonio on the northern coast of the island. Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett noted. “It is a manageable corridor that will be able to have easy access. But the most important thing is to be able to trace the visitors and to contain their movement.”
Attractions and restaurants within the resilient corridor adhere to specific sanitation protocols and staff can be monitored. According to Shawn DaCosta, Chief Operations Officer of the Sandals Resorts, he called the ‘resilient corridor’ a “master stroke from the Jamaica Department of Tourism that has gone well”. John Byles, Chairman of Jamaica’s Tourism COVID-19 Resilient Corridor Committee noted that the effort was a “joint public sector, private sector approach” that embraces “continual scientific improvements”. While Jamaica’s geography and tourism product are different than Cayman, we can draw lessons from the island’s experience to refine the Safe Plan to Reopen Cayman.
In Bermuda, the concept of a “mobile quarantine” has been utilized which restricts visitors to outdoor dining, advises distancing from crowds and avoiding closed spaces with poor ventilation among other restrictions. The policies in both islands have proved effective. Bermuda, which has a population similar to the Cayman Islands, has welcomed more than 24,000 visitors since reopening without local transmission and with no deaths related to COVID-19.
The recent announcements from the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna provide hope that an effective vaccine will help eventually end the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination of at-risk residents as well as front line workers will eventually become part of the strategy to expand beyond resort bubbles. This process will be gradual and continued testing and monitoring will be key to continuing a safe pathway to reopening. There are multiple paths forward to reopen the Cayman Islands to stayover visitors. We’ll need to take a step at a time, but a coordinated plan is required.
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