The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has signed a new partnership agreement with Caricom Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) that will seek to develop and implement Caribbean-wide health, safety and environmental sanitation (HSE) hospitality operational standards.
In a statement, CARPHA said that the tourism operating environment, visitor health and safety, destination and services quality, with tangible links to community development, have emerged as hallmarks for a viable, sustainable and reputable tourism product.
“The health, safety and regional security of the Caribbean’s economies are closely related to the health of its tourism industry given that the Caribbean sub-region is the most tourism-dependent region of the world.
“The tourism sector has historically been one of the industries hardest hit by pandemics and crises, and is vulnerable to health, safety, and environmental sanitation threats, challenging the sustainability of Caribbean tourism,” it added.
CARPHA said that the letter of agreement between the two regional bodies was signed last week by its executive director, Dr Joy St John and Deryck Omar, CROSQ chief executive officer.
“The adverse impact of HSE issues faced by the Caribbean tourism industry can largely be prevented through industry-wide adoption and implementation of standards-based, quality improvement approaches,” said Dr St John, adding that “training in enhanced food and environmental safety, hospitality-based health monitoring and response systems, policy and public/private health and tourism partnerships is needed”.
CARPHA said that there are no currently established regional travel and tourism quality assurance measures that are based on regional standards for food safety and sanitation, or best practices in sewage treatment, energy management, waste management, pest management and water treatment.
But it said through its Regional Tourism and Health Programme it is working with CROSQ to develop and implement a core set of seven Caribbean wide-HSE quality standards for the tourism industry.
“The development and implementation of these standards would protect the region’s fragile environment and lead to a safer and better-quality environmental product and standards-based destination, increasing the comparative advantage of Caribbean Tourism,” CARPHA said, noting that these standards were recently approved by the Caricom Council for Trade and Economic Development at its meeting in November last year.
“CROSQ has long promoted the value of quality services in our region. With the advent of the pandemic, standards and quality measures have become even more critical to our survival and resilience, especially for sectors like tourism and health.
These seven standards, developed through regional consensus, have been diligently worked on with CARPHA’s THP, over the past two years. This agreement today, will allow us to do even more to recognize and implement quality into these sectors, which for many of our countries is key to future trade and economic growth,” said Omar.
CARPHA and the CROSQ said they are both committed to a travel and tourism product that is safe, secure and provides a quality and authentic experience to travellers to the region.