The Falkland Islands Executive Council considered this week a paper relating to the current Quarantine and Visitor Policy and its implications for tourism, given the global situation of the industry, and international connectivity. Lawmaker Mark Pollard admitted that under current circumstances the next tourist season in the Falklands will not be able to rely on international visitors.
There are a number of factors which need to be considered. Scenarios developed by the UN World Tourism Organisation predict a decline in tourist arrivals globally during the 2020 season of up to 80%. Globally, the coronavirus pandemic is worsening. Borders, particularly in South America, remain closed and international connectivity worldwide is greatly reduced. With this in mind, FIG continues to work with the industry locally and internationally, and with FITB and the FITA to consider implications for the tourism sector and to develop mitigation measures to support those affected through the coming season, and better position the sector for the future.
One of the issues raised by industry is a desire for clarity, particularly over quarantine and visitor restrictions, in order to allow tour operators and the hospitality industry to plan accordingly. In consideration of this, and with the global pandemic still not under control, Executive Council approved the following recommendations:
• That restrictions on the issuing of visitor permits will likely remain in place until at least 31 December 2020, but the restrictions will still be subject to monthly review.
• That the current requirement to quarantine will likely remain in force until at least 31 December 2020, however this will continue to be reviewed every 42 days in line with the requirements of the Infectious Diseases Control (Coronavirus, Quarantine) Regulations 2020.
Executive Council will consider in October whether either or both of these restrictions should continue past 31 December 2020.
Recognising the impact of these measures and of the global reduction in connectivity and tourism, key areas of work under development include direct industry support measures, incentives to encourage domestic tourism through the coming season and investment in infrastructure to improve the visitor experience in the future.
MLA Mark Pollard, responsible for Trade and Industry portfolio said that the tourism industry worldwide is being severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and many of the related issues are out of the Falklands' control.
The global outlook for the coming season is very gloomy – unless something dramatically changes soon, which is not likely, it is highly likely that the next tourist season in the Falkland Islands will not be able to rely on international visitors. There are impacts that FIG can try to manage, and a huge amount of work is going into development of support schemes, loans and grants to help the industry, and looking at ways we can encourage domestic tourism this season. This is an area where we can all help each other, and I hope that the community will take the opportunity to enjoy local holidays this summer.
I know those who rely on tourism are very concerned; specific details on support packages will be developed for consideration by ExCo over the next two weeks, and more specific information on the measures we are developing will be coming very soon.”