Building upon the Caribbean’s innovative and successful partnership between tourism and health, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) has launched the first Caricom-approved health safety and environmental sanitation (HSE) hospitality standards. These guidelines are expected to improve health, safety, and environmental quality in the regional hospitality sector. The initiative was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The standards were unveiled by Carpha at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort in Tobago on November 14, with the support of senior officials of the Tobago government, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA). They include Food Safety and Sanitation; Energy Management; Water Treatment and Management; Sewage Treatment and Management; Solid Waste Management; Integrated Pest Management; and Environmental Management Systems.
Carpha’s Executive Director, Dr Joy St John who earlier this year signed an agreement with the Caricom Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) to further develop the standards, said these seven regional clean and green standards are a key component for providing assurance to travellers about company commitment to health and safety and towards avoiding or mitigating health threats to the Caribbean tourism product.
Each of the standards is equipped with an assessment checklist to easily guide the industry through a process of recognising and achieving them. Upon completion, after verification by Carpha, the company will be eligible to receive Carpha’s Tourism Health Program (THP) Healthier, Safer Tourism Award.
“There is now a verifiable way of having the suite of standards act as a crucial tool for establishing the quality of Caribbean tourism,” Dr St John stated.
Health and tourism professionals throughout the Caribbean have placed a high priority on the well-being and health and safety of the industry’s employees and travellers. Through the intervention of a unique partnership with CTO and CHTA, established by Carpha in 2014, the Caribbean was well positioned to respond strategically during the pandemic and now during its recovery.
In 2020 and 2021, Carpha also trained 7,000 hospitality professionals in preventing and controlling COVID-19 in the tourism sector. This contributed to the Caribbean tourism product’s ability to rebound quickly after the end of the “lockdown” phase of the pandemic.
The standards are currently voluntary and certified properties that meet all seven standards will be eligible for a platinum distinction.
Carpha’s Director of the Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control Division, Dr Lisa Indar— who facilitated THP stakeholder training in preparation for the Tobago carnival last month — was congratulated by senior officials for her leadership and commitment to the process of standards development since 2018.
Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary for Health, Wellness and Social Protection, Division of Health, Wellness and Social Protection, Tobago House of Assembly, Dr Faith B Yisrael congratulated Carpha and its partners for developing the standards. She encouraged tourism stakeholders to utilise them and not leave them on shelves gathering dust.
“If we pull together and if we actually follow these robust standards … we would all really truly survive whatever is to come next,” she said.