As global vaccination efforts continue to speed up, officials in the British Virgin Islands are planning to make it a bit easier for those eager to travel after being cooped up for a year. Starting next month, people who have been fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 will be able to enjoy the perks of the islands with few restrictions.
The islands have been open for tourism since December, but as the local government tried to balance health and safety with leisure vacationing, strict guidelines were implemented at the time.
"One of the things that we're noticing is people still love the British Virgin Islands, and even though our protocols were a little bit tough for our guests, they would still come back," said Clive McCoy, director of tourism for the British Virgin Islands. "And that is the thing about the British Virgin Islands, is most people that come to the BVI one time, they'll always come back again."
Under current COVID-19 safety protocols, travelers have to quarantine for at least four days before continuing on with the rest of their itinerary. But, beginning on May 15, fully vaccinated adults will only need to quarantine for up to 24 hours and test negative for the virus just prior to leaving for, and after arriving at, the tropical destination.
McCoy said despite the small hassle of traveling amid the pandemic, the future of tourism in the territory "looks bright."
"We know that most persons have been home and they haven't been able to travel and from what we saw, we saw that a lot of persons are anxious to get back to the British Virgin Islands so we're looking forward to having guests come back," he added.
The territory was walloped by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in just a two-week period back in 2017 and suffered devastating losses as a result. McCoy said some progress has been made when it comes to rebuilding, and at least three heavily damaged hotels will be ready to host guests again.
"Same beautiful waters, new hotels coming back, and the same friendly people. We're known for having some of the most friendly people in the Caribbean, and we can't wait to have you come back," McCoy noted.