Relatively safe and worry-free

It seems North American airlines see the region as an important part of their recovery strategy pending the worldwide distribution of vaccines. With demand for travel to Europe and other COVID-19 hotspots down, particularly the Caribbean and Mexico appear to be popular options for a winter holiday despite the need for testing, face mask-wearing, etc.

That is good news also for St. Maarten, which announced accepting – effective today – four types of antigen tests a maximum 72 hours before departure, as an alternative to PCR results within 120 hours. Certain carriers are even offering their own testing programs of the at-home and mail-in variety within the three-day term.

Some of these plans could still be derailed by undesirable developments. For example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reportedly placed Curaçao in the highest risk category at level 4.

The latter means visitors to that destination must take a test there when they return plus a second one after more or less a week, during which time they are required to quarantine at home. If not, they will have to quarantine for a 14-day period.

All this would obviously be a big blow should it happen to “The Friendly Island” that depends heavily on the American market. Curaçao thankfully relies much more on Dutch guests and is under travel code yellow in the Netherlands, just like Aruba.

St. Maarten remains code orange and this ought to change based on recent COVID-19 numbers comparable to Aruba and significantly lower than Curaçao. Every effort should be made to achieve such quickly, especially because the Caribbean part of the kingdom is just about the only place people from the Netherlands are not strongly discouraged to go.

Make no mistake, reviving the tourism economy will take hard work and determination from the entire population, to offer a pleasant yet relatively safe and worry-free vacation experience.

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