PHILIPSBURG–Changing the time needed to have negative COVID-19 test results from three days to five days is one of the amendments to the country’s travel requirements under consideration to make it easier for tourists to come to St. Maarten.
Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever said this during Wednesday’s live virtual Council of Ministers press briefing.
Although the country is open to international travel, some travellers are being restricted because they cannot get a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of arriving St. Maarten as required by local guidelines, she said.
Airlines have also reportedly told De Weever that many travellers are cancelling reservations within 24 hours of departure to St. Maarten.
Government is still waiting for medical professionals to advise on an extension from three to five days, but De Weever said she hopes it will be approved by the Council of Ministers.
Secondary testing for tourists is also being considered, said De Weever, adding that this idea came from meetings with French-side officials on synchronising the two governments’ health and travel protocols.
If approved, tourists may have to take an additional coronavirus test some seven days after arrival.
In anticipation of the traditional high season, government is looking into increasing testing capacity at the airport with a facility or area dedicated to that purpose, said De Weever.
According to her, airlines are already preparing to increase the number of flights to St. Maarten. Starting in October, Air France will up its weekly flights from five to seven, De Weever said.