(At this time, the Governmet of Canada mandates that all Canadians returning home after being out of the country must register and quarantine for 14 days.)
I started my “Five questions with…” series three months ago with a plan to keep the conversation going about travel amidst the fallout of COVID-19 — and in hopes of getting answers to questions about destinations that friends and family were already asking me.
As travel editor at the Vancouver Courier newspaper, vice-chair of the B.C. branch of the Travel Media Association of Canada, and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, travel is a big part of my life, which meant I already had the contacts in place to get started.
Now with some destinations looking to slowly reopen and, in an effort to catch a glimpse of future travel trends, I’m continuing to reach out to travel experts and tourism bureaus across Canada and the globe for answers to five similar questions.
And while no one can predict the future, all are hopeful travel will soon resume. But, how exactly that will look is anyone’s guess.
If you are part of a destination management organization or represent a property and want to share your thoughts, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five questions with Peter Mayers, Canadian director for Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
How has Barbados been coping amid COVID?
As a Caribbean destination, Barbados’ economy is reliant on the tourism industry and the pandemic has greatly impacted the country.
However, the small but mighty island is persevering. We have demonstrated resiliency and ingenuity, taking the downtime as an opportunity to refurbish hotel properties, train hospitality staff, rethink health and safety measures and provide respite for nature.
Many of Barbados’ top hotels have used this time to deep clean properties and rethink health and safety protocols, including Bougainvillea Beach Resort, The Crane Resort, Dover Beach Hotel and Ocean Hotels Barbados.
The public spaces within most hotels have been reimagined to encourage social distancing and the guest experience is being reworked to offer as many contactless capabilities as possible.
Barbadian rum distilleries, such as the West Indies Rum Distillery, have been taking this downtime to help in any way they can amid the pandemic by producing both surgical alcohol and hand sanitizer.
These materials have been donated to public health officials and local communities to help ensure that health and safety is uppermost in our thoughts, which is a testament to the warmth of Bajan people.
Barbados has been making the most of the downtime posed by COVID, well-positioning the island to confidently welcome visitors once again with travellers’ peace of mind at heart.
What can visitors anticipate upon reopening?
When Canadians begin to visit Barbados once again, they can expect to feel at ease and confident that their best interest is at heart.
All entities will be observing social distancing and sanitization practices to ensure that guest experiences are seamless from the moment they land in destination, to the moment they are revisiting the airport to return home.
While new levels of sanitization will be in place, guests can still expect the same Bajan warm welcome throughout their trip!
- As of June 15, 2020, all businesses have reopened and parks and beaches no longer have restricted hours.
- As of July 1, 2020, curfew restrictions were lifted and physical distancing reduced to one metre, offering a sense of normalization across the island.
What are some of the things that you personally love about Barbados?
Bajan cuisine and sailing quickly come to mind, especially when combined, but it is wonderful spirit of our people that make Barbados such a unique and special destination.
Our hospitality is unmatched, which showcases the safety of the island. Visitors can go for walks along the beach, head to a local party or hop on a public bus and be greeted with a warm smile and energizing conversation.
We love to share stories of our home and are eager to give the same memorable experience to our Canadian visitors.
Why will Barbados be an attractive destination to Canadians in a post-COVID?
Canadians love exploring and being enveloped in nature, and Barbados is a destination that is abundant in pristine wildlife and natural playgrounds.
What makes Barbados such a great post-COVID travel destination is that visitors can take refuge in nature and spend their days hiking open trails, sailing the open seas or soaking up the sun on one of the many sprawling coastlines.
My recommendation is visiting Coco Hill for some green therapy in the beautiful and hilly rainforest, followed by seaside brunch consisting of healthy and delicious food.
Barbados is also a naturally remote destination, further from its Caribbean island counterparts, providing both the tranquil and pristine Caribbean Sea on the West Coast and the sleepy East Coast villages along the Atlantic shore.
The East Coast lends itself nicely to social distancing and allows for a sense of privacy that many Canadians have been vying for during quarantine, plus you get to be in Barbados!
When can Canadians expect to find regular flights to Barbados once again?
With the Grantley Adams International Airport aiming to reopen at the end of the month, individual air carriers have shared plans to resume regular flights in tandem with the airport reopening.
Air Canada has resumed flights from Toronto to Bridgetown with two weekly flights and the international airport officially opened July 12.
I recommend visiting visitbarbados.org for updates and more inspiring stories of our Bajan culture.