Montserrat took a bold approach to tourism during Covid. Maybe it worked.

In April 2021, the Caribbean island of Monserrat reopened its borders to tourists after closing them 13 months previously, and began enticing tourists with a new remote working program – a not-so-uncommon post-closure phenomenon. . But according to a new report from The New York Times, the conditions to participate in the program are… slightly rarer.

This is because in order to visit Monserrat, travelers must quarantine themselves for two weeks upon arrival, submit to a COVID test after said quarantine ends, earn $ 70,000 or more per year and, until recently. , be prepared to stay for at least two months.

Now, there’s quite a bit to unpack here, and it’s worth noting that a number of countries have unveiled some variations of these requirements in an attempt to attract tourists. More than a handful have also started offering their own iteration of a digital nomad visa, which in almost all cases allowed remote workers to stay for a year or more. The difference is that with the implementation of a minimum stay, Monserrat seems to be actively trying to deter visitors altogether. Or, at the very least, as Heather Murphy writes, the country is “proud to be struggling to reach its bubble of about 5,000, where few wear masks or close their doors.”

While these measures are largely aimed at preventing the spread of the virus on an island where only 23% of the population would be vaccinated, it also has to see, as Murphy points out, Montserrat’s non-reliance on tourism to fuel its economy. (their main export, and therefore their industry, is actually volcanic sand), which sets them apart from most other Caribbean countries.

Some will say that the compromise is worth it. In return for the price of admission, visitors are rewarded with what is actually the free will of an island where, due to the stringent requirements and the size of the population, COVID is almost a non-factor. They frequent once popular beaches now devoid of tourists and do not wear masks. They are, according to Murphy, more concerned about death from volcanic eruption than about the virus. It is, in all respects, an enviable existence in light of the past 18 months spent just about anywhere else on Earth.

That said, on October 1, Monserrat will join the ranks of all other once-busy tourist destinations in allowing vaccinated travelers to visit. For unvaccinated tourists, the teleworker program will remain intact. It remains to be seen which model will ultimately benefit the island nation the most, especially with the Delta variant on the rise.

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