Lisa Indar

Caribbean Public Health Agency.

Regional Tourism and Health Information System

The health of Caribbean economies is closely related to the health of its travel and tourism industry given that the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated the critical necessity for health in tourism as it was propelled by travel, devastating tourism, resulting in economic instability and threatening regional health security in the Caribbean. This need for health in tourism remains paramount with the ongoing threat of new and re-emerging diseases and public health concerns, such as Monkeypox, that transcend international, regional and national boundaries.

The Regional Tourism and Health Program (THP) is an innovative novel program, addressing the health, safety and environmental sanitation (HSE) threats to tourism with the aim of strengthening countries’ capacity to prepare for and respond to public health threats, enhancing health and safety of visitors and locals and thereby, improving the quality, competitiveness and resilience of Caribbean tourism (

It is being executed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean’s sole public health agency responsible for preventing disease, promoting and protecting health, in collaboration with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA). THP adopts a multi-faceted, multisectoral approach for implementation, which includes surveillance and response, guidelines, capacity building, standards, policy, advocacy and partnerships, and a travellers health award and app.

With the advent of COVID-19, THP quickly expanded and realigned its tools for more rapid and relevant response to the pandemic. Implementing countries have enhanced capacity to mitigate against COVID-19 and other HSE threats to sustainable Caribbean tourism. The THP is elevating Caribbean tourism by building travellers’ confidence and reinstating healthier, safer travel to the Caribbean. This integrated, multisectoral program is the first global effort of its kind, setting an international precedent for improving sustainable tourism in the Caribbean. There is no better time than now, as new threats to health and travelling the region emerge and in this era of real time, instant information flow, for implementing mechanisms for monitoring and responding to tourism health and safety threats, remains crucial.

The THP is strengthening countries’ capacities to address HSE threats to tourism via the following regional public tools:

  • Tourism and Health Information System (THiS): A web-based, early warning and response monitoring and response system to confidentially capture Travellers’ illnesses in real time, with in built alert system to trigger a rapid and coordinated response, to reduce illness spread, economic and reputational negative impact. THiS can accommodate a wide range of Users, such as hotels, guesthouses, health centers, transportation companies, yachts, airlines, restaurants, tour operators and events, self-reporting). Currently, almost 800 businesses in 21 countries are registered on THiS. The system, despite being developed less than 5 years ago, has already resulted in improved disease detection by providing alerts to outbreaks of COVID-19 and gastroenteritis, preventing spread and economic damage. These public health events were not reported elsewhere and could have resulted in reputational and economic damage.

  • Caribbean Vessel Surveillance System (CVSS): An electronic system created to enhance the monitoring and response to illnesses and outbreaks in travellers and crew onboard vessels. It is designed to capture gastroenteritis and other syndromes, suspect COVID-19 and other public health illnesses in cruise ships and other vessels. Real time alerts are sent to countries if illness thresholds are reached /past before the ship arrives to a country. Regional minimum guidelines for safer return to cruise tourism were provided. Since its inception in October 2021 to July 19, 2022, 1249 alerts were sent to countries, providing real time information for appropriate public health interventions for safe cruise tourism for both local and travellers.

  • Regional Guidelines for managing issues of public health significance occurring among visitors to the Caribbean arriving by sea (passenger ships guidelines) and air (accommodations guidelines). These are instructive guidelines for harmonized scientific response to travel-related public health issues, supporting countries to manage issues of public health importance in a timely and coordinated fashion and thus, protect the health and security of visitors and locals. These guidelines are widely used by countries for norovirus and recently COVID-19 response.

  • Capacity building (training) and Certification: Train-the-Trainer training are provided to countries and tourism stakeholders to building capacity to promote healthier safer measures to reduce illnesses occurrence and spread. These include the internationally recognised Advanced Food Safety and Certification course (globally recognized ServSafe training infused with the Caribbean’s experience), outbreak investigation and environmental sanitation. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 health and safety guidance trainings were implemented. During 2020-2021, almost 10,000 tourism and health stakeholders from 45 countries were trained in COVID-19 infection, spread and prevention.

  • Regional Hospitality Health Safety and Environmental (HSE) standards: Seven (7) CARICOM approved “clean, green and safe” operational standards with assessment checklists were developed to provide scientific guidelines for operations and improve HSE quality in the hospitality sector: Energy Management and Efficiency, Food Safety & Sanitation, Environmental Management, Integrated Pest Management, Sewage Treatment and Management, Solid Waste Management, Water Treatment, Management and Efficiency. Implementation of these standards will significantly reduce the adverse impact of HSE issues, which in turn would increase the contribution of the sector to the economic well-being of the region. Regional Travellers Health Policy Framework: Approved by Caribbean Ministerial bodies, COHSOD (2021) and COTED (2020), this regional policy mandates reporting of travel related illness to national authorities. It provides a framework for countries to amend their national policy to promote heathier safer tourism. Implementation creates an urgency among hospitality partners and travellers to reduce the risk posed to people in the Caribbean Region by communicable disease outbreaks and public health emergencies, through early detection and a strengthened rapid response.

  • Caribbean Traveller’s Health Assurance Stamp for Healthier Safer Tourism (HST): A measurable and verifiable travellers health assurance and recognition award for tourism entities implementing the recommended Proactive COVID-19 health monitoring and safety measures (training, THiS and standards). Caribbean travellers now have the added assurance of a healthier, safer option for accommodations and services awarded the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) recognised, regional CARPHA-CTO-CHTA HST stamp. Facilities awarded the HST stamp are listed as preferred healthier safer option on Caribbean Traveller's Health Mobile App and CARPHA, CTO and CHTA websites. To date, 108 facilities have been awarded the Stamp.

  • Caribbean Travellers Health App: The Caribbean Traveller's Health Mobile App is a multi-faceted, novel, Caribbean traveller’s health information repository designed for travellers and health and tourism stakeholders. It provides travel health information by each Caribbean destination (including vaccinations, health care facilities, accommodation listing), health alerts of current public health issues, COVID-19 proactive/prevention measures and unique travel requirements by country (testing, health screening, pre-approval, tracking). The app is available in Apple Store  and Google Play.

  • Multisectoral, Multiagency Partnerships: Collaborative relationships, partnerships, trust and confidence with regional and international private and public health and tourism stakeholders to advocate and support the sustainable implementation of the THP, rapid real-time sharing of information between agencies to facilitate the seamless surveillance and response to travellers’ illness across regional and international borders. Current partners include CHTA, CTO, Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CDC Vessel Sanitation Program (CDC-VSP), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Cricket West Indies (CWI), Caribbean Airlines (CAL), as well as national health and tourism authorities.

  • Advocacy, Promotional and Training Materials: A suite of promotional, instructional, and prevention brochures and videos on THP, implementation of THiS, COVID-19 prevention, guidelines for safer travel, are available. THP has also been featured in regional television and broadcasting platforms, CWI cricket matches, Caribbean Beat, Caribbean Comeback Magazine, Wanderer, UK Travel Weekly and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States’ Trade Magazine. THP has been published in the European Society of Medicine, International Public Health Journal, Caribbean Policy Research Institute’s Sun, Sand and Sustainability Report and has been a participant in CARPHA Health Research Conference and International Conference of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICEID).

For more information on the Regional Tourism and Health Program: visit

Follow us on social media: Facebook: @CARPHATHP

Instagram: tourismandhealth_carpha

Dr Lisa Indar

Director-Surveillance, Disease Prevention & Control Division

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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