The dates are all over the place. Here’s a handy cheat sheet.
BY TANNER GARRITY / JUNE 16, 2020 7:00 AM
Whenever tragedy befalls an area that relies on tourism to keep its economy humming, the best way to jumpstart that area again is simple: more tourism. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria roared through the Caribbean in 2017, leaving behind an estimated $157 billion in damages, the quickest road to recovery was visitors arriving the following spring, to sleep, eat and spend money in Anguilla, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
In the age of COVID-19, though, the way forward isn’t so clear. GDP losses in the Caribbean and Mexico have been catastrophic, and even the region’s Small Island Developing States (a U.N. designation) have seen billions of dollars in losses this year. There has been no easy fix; Americans are understandably wary of overseas travel, and even for those willing to take the risk, international flights have been an unreliable, overly expensive mess for weeks now, with unprecedented percentages of routes cancelled and planes grounded.
There are some emerging signs, though, that some of the Western Hemisphere’s most popular vacation spots might be opening up — and airline service is responding in kind. Consider the June opening dates of a number of Caribbean islands, including U.S. Virgin Islands (June 1), Antigua and Barbuda (June 4), St. Lucia (June 4), Jamaica (June 15) and St. Barths (June 22). As Frommer’s details, the specifics of reopening are unique to each island, but in general, self-quarantine periods are being replaced with health screenings and temperature checks. Some nations, like the Bahamas, are enforcing face masks. In St. Lucia, hotels are being held to increased hygiene standards. To enter St. Barths, visitors must show the results of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the trip.
It all adds unwanted complications to island life, but that’s a price many travelers are willing to pay. And airlines, desperate in their own way, know it. American Airlines, Air Canada, JetBlue and Southwest are all ramping up routes in the month of June. Other islands to keep an eye on for July reopenings include Aruba, Barbados, Grenada, St. Martin, and Turks and Caicos. Mexico, meanwhile, is open to American travelers if they arrive by sea or air. Popular resort areas like Los Cabos and Quintana Roo officially opened this week, and are proceeding cautiously, following a recent wave of fresh cases.