Following international backlash, especially from travelers over social media, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is making an about-turn on the COVID-19 travel requirements announced on August 14 that should have taken effect on September 1.
The Tourism Board, through TCI Assured, the COVID-19 authorization portal travelers to the TCI employ to upload their COVID-19 information prior to making their journey, issued an advisory to hoteliers on Thursday, informing them of the pending rollback.
“The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board is retracting the ‘Turks and Caicos Islands Updates TCI Assured Travel Requirements’ statement that was sent on 14th August 2021,” the notification stated.
It added: “The Turks and Caicos Government is currently reviewing the newly announced protocols and entry requirements and will update you on the new measures.
“Once available, all updated protocols and TCI Assured Pre-Travel Authorization requirements will be found on our website https://turksandcaicostourism.com/tci-assured-faqs/.”
The now shelved requirements announced by newly appointed Minister of Health Hon. Jamell Robinson stated that as of September 1, the Turks and Caicos Islands would only admit tourists that are vaccinated.
He outlined that all visitors aged 16 and above should be fully vaccinated on arrival in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This means that visitors will only be allowed inside the country 14 days after they have gotten their second vaccine dose.
He noted further that all fully vaccinated tourists that tested positive while on vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands are to self-isolate at their own expenses for a period of 10 days and undergo a COVID-19 mandatory test on day seven prior to being released.
The minister concluded that unvaccinated returning residents must submit a prearrival negative COVID-19 result and then along with members of their household’s quarantined for 17 days, then to undergo a mandatory test on day five of their isolation.
Minister Robinson noted that the decision was taken based on the tourist to local COVID-19 infection ratio data that the Ministry of Health had recorded. The data showed that tourists were outpacing locals in acquiring the disease.
“Based on that (tourists to local population ratio), we know that we have to put measures in place to deal with that large portion of COVID positives, and one of the ways of doing that is to ensure that all tourists coming to the Turks and Caicos Islands are vaccinated,” Minister Robinson said then.
However, the measures announced by Robinson, were met with a mixed bag of reactions, with the negative ones the loudest.
Hotels reported cancellations as a result, and persons making travel plans to the destination, changed their minds.
Even former premier Michael Misick weighed in on the matter.
“I think this is a bad move and the new minister is off on the wrong footing. If someone is tested and is negative, it should be enough to enter the country. This will have a dramatic impact on tourism. We cannot copy everything the United States does. They have 350 million people and trillion of dollars at their disposal. I am going to watch this movie,” Misick stated at the time.
There has not been clear-cut reaction yet from tourism industry players in the wake of the announcement.