St Maarten announced that it would be dropping its travel protocols, including the Electronic Health Authorisation System (EHAS) form, on November 1, 2022.
Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, Omar Ottley, said the development comes as the island moves towards a new phase of living with coronavirus
"St Maarten has done exceptionally well in its fight against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus
2 (SARS-CoV-2) COVID
-19. The Country is now fully engaged in restoring economic activity, and one key aspect of economic revitalisation is the return of visitors in large numbers. At the same time, while we concentrate on rebuilding our Tourism destination, our work will continue to protect the population, including our visitors," said Ottley in a press release after meeting with the St Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) on Thursday.
SHTA had been pushing the government to remove the COVID
-19 protocols since as they claim it can limit the territory’s growth.
Ottley said the World Health Organisation is still advocating for proper safety measures against contracting COVID
-19 since the pandemic is not over.
"While the global COVID
-19 pandemic is still ongoing, it may shift from pandemic to endemic. We must therefore contend with the need to feed the population. That means putting our people back to work and welcoming visitors back to our shores in full force for the upcoming season, which is on target to be great," said Ottley.
He noted the EHAS provided the government with valuable data and the new goal is to create a system that focuses on targeted marketing strategies to bring more visitors to St Maarten.
Ottley commended the tourism industry for implementing measures to reduce the spread of COVID
"The hospitality industry did exceptionally well to control the spread of COVID
-19, and these measures can prove effective against the potential spread of other transmittable diseases," Ottley said.
He is encouraging the hospitality industry to continue using their best practices to protect staff and visitors.