Removal of EHAS requested to avoid losing out on visitors

Removal of EHAS requested to avoid losing out on visitors

PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) recently sent an urgent request to Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley to fully remove the Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) before the start of the high tourist season in November as it presents a hurdle for visitors.

With EHAS, St. Maarten is one of 26 countries in the world – of a total of 195 – where Covid travel restrictions remain in place. “To be more competitive as a destination, St. Maarten needs to remove any hurdle in the way of seamless travel,” SHTA president Paul Henriquez stated in the letter to VSA Minister Ottley, also acting minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication (TEATT), responsible for boosting tourism and reviving St. Maarten’s economy after the pandemic.
Currently, cruise passengers visiting St. Maarten and other people on boats that come to the island for less than 24 hours are exempted from filling out EHAS forms. All other visitors must complete and upload these forms to be allowed to board a plane, or a ferry, or arrive on a private boat and stay in St. Maarten waters for more than a day and come ashore.
To date Minister Ottley has not responded to the SHTA letter, dated October 3. On Friday, the minister announced that EHAS would be fully automated as of Saturday, October 15, and that the program is scheduled to continue thereafter for data collection until March 2023.
On, listed under travel requirements, the announcement reads: “As of October 15, 2022, unvaccinated residents are no longer required to be tested prior to arrival. EHAS application must still be completed. As of October 15, 2022, travel insurance is now optional for visitors. Non-residents who are not fully vaccinated are required to submit a negative 24 hr. Ag. (Antigen) or 48 hr. PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) result. Transit passengers will still be required to complete an EHAS application.”
On Wednesday, during the Council of Minister’s press briefing, Prime minister Silveria Jacobs announced, in her capacity as acting minister of VSA, that the announced change of EHAS has been postponed two weeks, from October 15 until November 1. “I did get an update from the minister of VSA,” Jacobs said. “As of November 1, all measures such as testing, and vaccination info will no longer be required. And the EHAS will be only utilised for data purposes. So not for what is being done now, but for data purposes that is needed at the country level.”
On Wednesday night, the information on had not been updated accordingly.
The SHTA totally agrees to the importance of data as a solid foundation for improving the St. Maarten economy, SHTA president Henriquez stated in the October 3 letter to Minister Ottley. “There is however little point in putting this in the form of a now seemingly antiquated medical form, perceived as a hurdle by tourists selecting their destination of choice, as the rest of the region has retracted Covid-19 requirements months ago.”
Over the years, alternative and more effective means to achieve the goal to collect data have been discussed with Minister Ottley’s predecessors, Henriquez pointed out. “The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association is always open to meet and discuss these and other important topics.”
In his letter, Henriquez stressed that “the current process and wording [of EHAS, Ed.] will deter tourists to visit our island, and makes them visit a different destination”. Hotels analyse this on a weekly basis, he said, noting that in some cases EHAS causes tourists to miss flights. “This negative experience effects the reputation of our destination,” Henriquez concluded.
The British news site lists St. Maarten among “26 countries where Covid travel restrictions remain in place including Spain and the United States”. The article reads: “With October half-term coming up and the festive period not long away, many Brits may be planning a getaway to sunnier climes throughout the autumn and winter. But while all Covid restrictions have been removed in the UK, it’s important to remember that many other countries still have rules in place for arriving travellers. Failing to brush up on these regulations before you jet off abroad could potentially ruin your holiday if you don’t have the right paperwork.”
St. Maarten is listed with the following description: “The fully jabbed may enter without being tested, while those who are not vaccinated must show a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival, or an antigen within the day before.”
Several of St. Maarten’s neighbouring islands are featured in Travel off Path’s “Caribbean Destinations With No Restrictions This Winter and Fall” : Saba, restrictions lifted May 1; St. Eustatius, restrictions lifted May 11; St. Barth, no restrictions since August 1; St. Kitts and Nevis, no restrictions as of August 15.
Restrictions were lifted in the Northern Caribbean for the British Virgin Islands on July 15; Guadeloupe and Martinique on August 1; Dominica on August 22; Antigua and Barbuda on August 29 and for St. Lucia on September 5, 2022.
Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire have been 100% restriction free since March 10, March 19 and June 1, 2022, respectively.

The Daily Herald

Copyright © 2020 All copyrights on articles and/or content of The Caribbean Herald N.V. dba The Daily Herald are reserved.

Without permission of The Daily Herald no copyrighted content may be used by anyone.

Comodo SSL

Hosted by

© 2024 The Daily Herald. All Rights Reserved.