Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

I sense a couple of trends that could be influencing travelers' decisions to visit the Caribbean this winter.

These include the extended-stay offerings and digital nomad work-in-place programs offered by resorts on several islands.

Some of the offerings carry high fees, but all feature tropical scenes of breezy work areas with beaches and azure seas as the backdrops.

I've also spotted a bevy of deals and promotions for holiday travel to the islands, especially to resorts and secluded villas with extra-large rooms and lots of outdoor space for families.

Here's another trend that addresses the challenge many travelers have faced in getting Covid test results back in time to leave for the islands: American is offering pre-flight Covid rapid testing at the airport prior to some flights to Grenada, St. Lucia and Belize; JetBlue has partnered with a private company to offer in-home Covid tests for travelers to Aruba.

Now Barbados has a similar plan. The destination has collaborated with U.S.-based StageZero Life Sciences laboratory on an initiative that the government hopes will make traveling from North America a whole lot easier. The partnership enables travelers from the U.S. and Canada to have their Covid-19 PCR test done at home under the supervision of a healthcare professional. The lab guarantees test results back in 48 hours or less, which meets the Barbados entry requirement of getting a negative test result three days prior to arrival.

StageZero's lab in Richmond, Va., has the ability to test in all 50 states and across Canada. A healthcare professional will visit the traveler at home, administer the PCR swab test, ship samples to the lab and have results sent to the traveler within between 24 and 48 hours by an encrypted email file.

Lisa Cummins, Barbados' minister of tourism and international transport, described this arrangement as a "game changer" during a recent Caribbean Tourism Organization webinar.

"One of the main things has been the fact that in many of our key markets, in most developed countries, not only has finding a location to do a test for travel been challenging in some instances, but also getting those test results back in three days has been a problem," Cummins said.

"This partnership with StageZero will give us coverage across the entire U.S. and Canadian markets to ensure we are able to get people to travel to Barbados," she continued.

The test can be given to family members, as well. The price starts at $265 per person and at $166 for a household of four. Travelers can request a statement that they can submit to insurance companies for reimbursement.

An addition to the pre-departure test, Barbados' entry requirements call for quarantine in an approved hotel, villa or guesthouse with a second PCR test done on day two or three after arrival with results in 24 hours. If the test result is negative, travelers are then free to move about the island.

Webinar moderator Petra Roach, interim CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., said that the launch of this partnership with StageZero "is critical to our tourism comeback. We can't wait for our visitors to return. This partnership guarantees that they will have a safe and seamless entry experience."

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