During the uncertain times, the pandemic has presented, the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands were glad to be able to speak directly to tourism industry representatives last August during a virtual meeting hosted by IAATO, reports the August/September South Georgia Newsletter.
Commissioner, Nigel Phillips CBE (and Falkland Islands governor) opened the meeting with a welcome address explaining why SG are striving to support a tourism season as part of our longer view on the management and protection of South Georgia. The Commissioner noted that South Georgia is a destination and not a gateway, and as such is dependent on international travel restrictions, and those implemented by gateway authorities, but the message was clear ‘If you can get here, we are open.’
CEO Helen Havercroft went on the explain that in order to facilitate safe visits, the GSGSSI's Government requires assurance from vessel operators that the risk of COVID-19 had been adequately mitigated against prior to arrival. Vessels with known COVID-19 cases would not be permitted entry.
Ross James, Visitor Management Officer described GSGSSI’s Health Declaration system which sets out to risk assess each vessel and provide a sliding scale of response to risk, with scope for allowing visits to uninhabited parts of South Georgia only.
It was impressed upon attendees that for any visits to be considered, there would be no relaxation of environmental standards, indeed the system devised increases the stakes and encourages operators to ensure that the very best standards of bio-security are applied. (SG Newsletter)