While the European Union seems to be planning to bar American travelers from visiting the continent this summer, the island of St. Barths, the most glamorous of France’s Caribbean islands has just reopened its borders to all visitors. As of this week, the island is reachable from North America through San Juan, P.R. only, but the airport of nearby St. Martin is poised to reopen on July 1st.
“We are delighted to welcome our North Americans friends again,” said Nils Dufau, President of the Tourism Committee for the island. “We are often described as the mini-France of the Americas in a delightful Caribbean setting.”
Visitors are required, however, to bring proof that they have tested negative for Covid-19 within three days of their trip. If no test is available in their home countries, travelers will be required to get tested within 24 hours of arrival on the island and will need to quarantine with their traveling party until the results are in, about 24 hours. For those remaining on St. Barths for more than seven days, a second test will be required.
More than two months have passed since anyone tested positive for coronavirus on the island and the French government has worked with the local authorities to develop policies ensuring the safety of both residents and visitors.
“We have invested one and half million euros in medical protocols in the unlikely case someone becomes ill on St. Barths,” said Mr. Dufau, “including more than 50 rooms, personnel and ventilators.”
While several hotels plan to reopen in the Fall, hotels accepting visitors this summer include Le Toiny, now functioning as a private club, Le Manapany, an eco-resort reopening on July 8, the Village St. Barth and the low-key resort Les Ilets de la Plage.
Beaches such as the stunning les Salines , restaurants, bars and boutiques on St. Barths are open, all with the latest health protocols and there are ab0ut 850 villas available for rent this summer.
Said Sibarth Bespoke Villa Rental CEO Ashley Lacour who was born on the island, “Our economy relies mainly on tourism so when tourism comes to a halt as it did last March, everything stops.” Mr. Lacour’s parents founded the company in 1974 and were amongst the first to help make St. Barths into an international destination. This year, two major boat races, the Bucket Race and Les Voiles de St. Barth were canceled and the spring season was essentially stopped. “The people of St. Barth are very resilient,” said Mr. Lacour. “We overcame Hurricane Irma in 2017 and today, we are ready to reopen to the world once again.”
St. Barths was discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus who named it for his brother Bartholomew. It became a property of France but was then bartered to Sweden for the right for French ships to dock in Göteborg. Finally retroceded to France in 1877, the island is now a “Collectivité d’Outre Mer.” It’s a part of the French West Indies (with Guadeloupe, the French side of St. Marten and Martinique) but not part of the Shengen territory.
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