Step by step, day by day, travel is becoming more difficult for the unvaccinated.
Today, Elite Island Resorts, an all-inclusive hotel group with nine hotels in the Caribbean and Central America, announced that it will require all its guests 12 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The new rule goes into effect on September 1st at its properties in Antigua, St. Lucia, The Grenadines, Barbados, and Panama.
“After weighing all the choices, issues, and concerns, mandating vaccines was the wisest option in protecting the critical tourism industry of these beloved destinations which are so crucial to the survival of so many employees, and the only way we will be able to keep travel and tourism going strong throughout the fall and winter,” said Elite Island Resorts Founder and CEO Robert A. Barrett.
Governments and destinations have been mulling over the idea of vaccine mandates for some time; and as they do, we’re starting to see individual companies and hotels move forward with such policies on their own as the Delta variant threatens to impact not only travel, but daily life going forward.
However, decisions by hotel groups certainly spark a bigger impact, since they involve multiple properties and could set the tone for other management groups to follow.
Barrett said that the decision came from a desire to protect and respect the local populations and to not overwhelm their infrastructure.
“Current science tells us that if you’re vaccinated, you are less likely to become seriously ill, or end up taking up a hospital bed in a fragile medical environment such as the Caribbean where local resources cannot afford to be overburdened,” he said. “It’s imperative for us to protect the hospitals of these smaller island nations.”
Obviously, the decision to implement a vaccine mandate might not sit well with some, especially those who are unvaccinated. Barrett recognized the potential backlash of the decision to ban unvaccinated travelers, but implied that the good would outweigh the bad in the long run.
“While we understand that news of our vaccine mandate may be disappointing to select travelers, it will be uplifting and encouraging to others,” he said. “Travel breeds tolerance and with this decision, we don’t seek to divide, because as hoteliers, we bring cultures and people together. Yet, in today’s world, we must consider so many more variables to do that, all while respecting the integrity of these beautiful islands and the people who work in them.”
Elite Island Resorts represents five resorts in Antigua (Galley Bay Resort & Spa, Hammock Cove, St. James’s Club & Villas, Pineapple Beach Club and The Verandah Resort); the St. James’s Club Morgan Bay in St. Lucia; The Club Barbados in Barbados; Palm Island in The Grenadines; and the Los Establos Boutique Inn in Panama.