St. Maarten is on the right track by introducing mandatory COVID-19 coverage for travellers (see related story). The intention is that local insurance providers are added to the existing Aruba programme rather than reinventing the wheel. One obvious advantage of this approach is that the bigger the pool the lower the price.
According to Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever, including medical evacuations took some time but was considered important especially for US visitors. The premium has not yet been announced, but in Aruba it is currently US $70 per week after starting at $135 and small children are exempted.
The maximum covered amount of $75,000 is to take care of isolation, medical, hospital and repatriation cost. The minister hopes to have the system “go live” at the end of October, well before the traditional high season.
While guarding the country against unbudgeted healthcare expenses is the main goal, people should keep in mind that it also gives guests a sense of security they won’t be saddled with large unexpected bills while on the island for which they are not insured. This could even be a reason not to go on vacation.
How exactly it will work remains to be seen, but in Aruba passengers must purchase the policy before they board the flight when filling in the compulsory digital Embarkation and Disembarkation (ED) card. This also prevents any undesired discussion later.
These are the kinds of moves that successful destinations must now make to revive their hospitality industry. Despite all its efforts, Aruba up to September 30 was only at 33 per cent of 2019 arrivals so far and expects to end at 35 per cent for the year, with the 2021 forecast still just between 40 and 60 per cent.
This clearly shows it will not be easy to fill St. Maarten’s resorts any time soon, but under these circumstances every little bit helps perhaps more than ever.
By the way, MP Claudius “Toontje” Buncamper was mistakenly called Claudio Buncamper, his brother at Winair, in this column on Wednesday. The author apologises for mixing up the two siblings.
Note to readers
An old Super U “Back to School” double spread was accidentally placed in the printed version of Wednesday’s newspaper. The correct supermarket ad is in today, Thursday. Another double spread of National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) that was supposed to be in that space on Wednesday is also in today’s edition. The Daily Herald regrets the error.