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Gibbs joins call for lifting of travel restrictions to French Caribbean

From The Daily Herald

Daniel Gibbs

MARIGOT–Collectivité President Daniel Gibbs has written to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to urge him to lift air travel restrictions to the French Caribbean islands, as he has done already for Corsica, as the phased exit from lockdown continues.

The Collectivité is supported in this request by the business associations of St. Martin and the other islands in the French Antilles. The French-side hotelier’s association AHSM, tourism organisations in Guadeloupe and Martinique, and Fédération des Entreprises de Outre-Mer (FEDOM) have also voiced their concerns by letter to the French government.

“As you know, St. Martin’s economy is based on a single sector of activity – tourism – on which nearly 70 per cent of jobs (direct and indirect) depend,” Gibbs wrote. “The resumption of tourist activity, even in a difficult international context, is vital for maintaining our jobs.

“Like many public and private players in the French Overseas Territories, we welcomed your announcements on May 14 at the end of the inter-ministerial committee meeting, reflecting the government’s desire to revive the economies of the Overseas Territories.

“However, your recent decision to maintain restrictions on travel between metropolitan France and the overseas territories, with no known date to anticipate reopening, is a matter of deep concern to us.”

He said France’s economy, including Corsica, will be able to benefit from removal of travel restrictions, but while several Caribbean destinations are preparing to welcome tourists again, St. Martin will still be subject to severe restrictions, adding continued restrictions would be fatal to the territory’s economy.

Tourism professionals are currently unable to promote the destination without clarity, while visitors who want to make reservations are still restricted by travel conditions.

“We are well aware of the need to protect public health, which must not further jeopardise our jobs and businesses,” Gibbs said. “We simply ask to benefit from the same conditions as France. Our health situation has always been much better here than [in – Ed.] the rest of France.”

Gibbs called for the immediate lifting of the requirement of “compelling” reasons for travel to and from St. Martin, lifting of the 14-day quarantine requirement as of June 22, and the implementation of a test on departure and then a seven-day isolation for all passengers on arrival.

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