French government forces all overseas territories to suspend tourism

Feb 4, 2021

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If you’d been considering booking a holiday to St Barts — or any other French overseas territory — in the near future, you’ll need to rethink those plans.

New coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by the French government have forced its overseas territories, including those in the Caribbean and French Polynesia, to close for tourism indefinitely.

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French Polynesia was the first of the islands to make it clear that it was temporarily closed for tourism. On Monday, the island said no tourists would be permitted to enter until further notice. The other islands of Bora Bora and Moorea have also closed to tourism for the time being.

Related: French Polynesia is ‘temporarily’ closed for tourism

Now, the Caribbean islands of St Barts, St Martin, Martinique and Guadeloupe have announced their measures in order to comply with the French government’s new requirements in an effort to reduce the chances of importing new strains of the virus.

“Independently of the will of our local authorities to keep St Barts open, the French government has just decided to put in place new preventative measures against COVID-19 variants,” said President of St Barts’ tourism board Nils Dufau.

Travellers who are still on the islands will be allowed to leave if they choose.

At this point, it remains unclear when these restrictions will be lifted.

“We are right now negotiating to ease the entry restriction and find an alternative solution. Our aim is to reopen the island’s borders as soon as possible,” Dufau said.

If you have a trip booked to any of the French overseas territories or French Polynesia in the coming weeks, it will be worth checking with your travel provider and place of accommodation. At this time, tourists are not permitted to enter the countries. Additionally, the U.K. is still in its lockdown, meaning you can’t travel for non-essential reasons.

According to a government update, there will be exemptions to the travel freeze on the Caribbean and French Polynesia islands. For example, those travelling for a serious personal or family-related matter or an emergency health situation may be considered to enter.

On Sunday, France implemented a ban on all non-essential travellers from outside the European Union. Then, on Tuesday, the government imposed the overseas territory restriction.

Featured photo by Walter Bibikow/Getty Images.

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