Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong

Citizens of this country, who wish to travel within the CARICOM “Travel Bubble” would not be subjected to tests for the virus, nor would they have to quarantine.

These are just some of the feature of the bubble as revealed by the Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong, who said the programme would be bolstered once Trinidad and Tobago can participate.

On Saturday Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said once the downward trend in COVID cases continues locally, this country can join the bubble.

The “Travel Bubble” initiative was launched on September 18 with eight member states having already qualified to be a part of it, four of whom have already signed on.

According to Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, in an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, the initiative would once again give life to tourism and related industries regionally- an effort in which “a country like Trinidad and Tobago is very important.”

“The truth is, we will not see the full potential and impact of the bubble if we are unable to bring some of the larger CARICOM territories into the bubble,” he said.

“Trinidad and Tobago is the major economy of CARICOM. Trinidad and Tobago is important to almost everything in CARICOM.”

He explained that T&T contributes the largest market in terms of the intra-regional tourism product.

“There was a time when Barbados used to receive 30,000 tourists (and) visitors from Trinidad and Tobago per year. Trinidad and Tobago, at that time…in terms of our tourism market, it was number four after Britain, Canada and the United States,” he said.

In recent years, he noted, the contribution has decreased but “it still is a very important tourism and travel market.”

Comissiong explained that to qualify to be part of the bubble, member states need to be deemed as having low to no risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus under the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Comissiong said, “I think we are all hoping and wishing that Trinidad and Tobago does get its numbers down as quickly as possible in the interest of Trinidad and Tobago but also in the interest of the entire Caribbean Community.”

“We have to rebuild this CARICOM economy. We’ve all suffered a terrible blow and Trinidad and Tobago would be critical to any rebuilding process.”

Already qualified to be a part of the bubble are St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia and Barbados. However, only St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados have begun participating in the initiative so far.

One of the defining features of the initiative is that people entitled to participate in the travel bubble are not required to take COVID-19 tests nor would they undergo a period of quarantine in order to travel to countries that are within it.

“Once you travel to the country, you adhere to the national protocol in terms of social distancing, wearing masks hand washing and so forth. We feel confident that we don’t need to put you through testing or quarantine because your country is just as safe as ours,” he said.