On August 20, 2021, the Turks and Caicos Chamber of Commerce released a report entitled “Tourist Vaccine Requirement”. In this report, the Chamber indicated there will be 52,210 fewer tourists for period September 2021 to December 2021 with an estimated impact of $96million.
I think it is great that the chamber has done an analysis but I believe it is misleading and has not captured a true picture of our industry. Of course with government policies and the increase in the spread of the Delta Variant in many places, it is a challenge to predict the impact that COVID 19 will have on the economy.
For example, when the country opened for business, there were many who thought there would be less tourism arrivals but we have seen significant increase in the arrivals of tourists and for some resorts, the occupancy levels were higher than what they were prior to the emergence of COVID 19.
With that said, I thought I would examine the report as I do have some issues with the report.
The report has used 55% vaccination rate for individuals between18 to 64 and has excluded individuals over 65. I have a problem with this as the Chamber is using the average rate for the US. Average means some people are below and some people are above. Furthermore, the majority of our tourists are coming from the East Coast and therefore the vaccination rate used should have been based the vaccination rate from the East Coast rather than using the average for all of the United States.
In the CDC report it has stated that “several states in the South and West, for example have vaccinated a smaller share of their population with a first or single dose than in other regions.” States such as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are above the US average ranging from 66% to 68% fully vaccinated.
While the report has excluded individuals over 65, the truth is individuals over 65 are travelling and they are travelling to the Turks and Caicos. One of the reasons why they are travelling is because they are vaccinated.
The report used the average spent from 2018 Tourism Survey. We are now in 2021 and almost approaching 2022, and therefore a more updated average spent should be used. Given the impact of COVID 19 and the change in profile of some of our tourists, it may be discovered thath the average spent may be significantly less than 2018.
While I agree that Turks and Caicos is indeed a popular destination for families, the report is assuming that children only 16 and over are travelling with their families. The report has not reflected how many children under 16 are travelling to the Turks and Caicos with their families as children under 16 are not required to be vaccinated.
According to the Chamber report and the CDC report, 62% of the people 18 and up are fully vaccinated. Again the Chamber needs to dig further and reveal how many young people in the East Coast are fully vaccinated.
The report has shown a 55% decrease for each month from September and October. From August, flights were being reduced and September and October are normally slow months anyway. Therefore, 55% should not be applied for each month.
Uptake not included.
The report has not considered any positive impact of the Government policies. The thing is people that are unvaccinated really don’t want to travel as much as people who are vaccinated. Therefore, it is possible that the country may attract more guests to the islands from vaccinated people even though vaccinated people are not exempted from getting COVID 19 or the Delta variant. However, people that are vaccinated feel more safe travelling and especially to a destination that only takes vaccinated people.
The truth is until countries are able to control the rate of the COVID 19, many people will be hesitant to travel because no one wants to risk contracting the COVID 19 virus. Therefore, no matter what polices the Government implement for tourists, the travel for tourists will be based primarily on what is happening in the host city of the tourists. For instance, if a city has a lot of covid 19 cases, I doubt tourists will leave their city to travel to another destination.
I think 96M is very misleading. As I mentioned in a previous article, we will have cancellations but it will not be that impactful. Finally there must be a balanced between the health of the residents and the economy of a country. Do we want our country to close the borders where we will not get any tourists?