A Message to the OTS community on COVID-19
By now, all of us have made adjustments in our daily lives as we adapt to changes in government and institutional mandates, healthcare recommendations, and social norms in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously, these measures have resulted in a hold on all travel plans as we all strive to slow the spread of the virus.
OTS has taken measures to help protect the health of our staff and station visitors too. Last week, we began the work of decreasing the number of people present in all of our locations. This action included suspension of new reservations for station visits through at least April 12 and canceling pending reservations to the extent possible. While this is absolutely the right course of action, we move forward with the knowledge that there will be financial implications, not only to OTS but to the surrounding communities which rely on visitation for their livelihoods.
When the threat of COVID-19 has subsided, OTS will join many other organizations and businesses in Costa Rica and South Africa as we endeavor to restart our services and carry out our mission. With your support, we will not only rebuild – we will thrive.
With that in mind, we write today to ask for your help.
- Students: Although we are not able to offer field courses given the current global health situation, we look forward to getting our field experiences up and running as soon as it is safe to do so. Please visit tropicalstudies.org/education to find out more information about future educational offerings and courses.
- Academic Group Faculty Coordinators: We sincerely appreciate the trust you put in OTS to handle the arrangements for your academic group. However, we also understand that institutional and governmental travel bans, along with a genuine concern for your students’ safety, might make your trip this year impossible. We want to work with you to find a solution. If you must cancel your trip in the current year, we will happily offer a credit to your institution toward a future trip, and we will honor the current year’s station rates.
- Researchers: Research continuity is one of our highest priorities. If you are a researcher with a current project, we want to explore ways to help your work succeed. Please contact me or any of the science staff to discuss how we can help.
- Natural History Visitors: Our Natural History Visitors are individuals with a keen awareness and respect for the importance of protecting natural resources. We know that you value the wide range of naturalist activities available at our field stations, which enables visitors to realize their passion for exploring the flora and fauna of Costa Rica’s tropical rain forests. To help support our stations, we ask at this time that you consider postponing, not canceling, your visit to our stations. Alternatively, you could choose to donate all or part of your reservation amount back to the station to help us offset the financial shortfall we are experiencing due to COVID-19 cancellations.
- Donors: With the loss of income from our educational courses and Natural History Visitors, we will need to rely more than ever before on our generous donors to sustain the organization. If you have been waiting to make your first gift or next gift to OTS, now is the time! Just visit www.tropicalstudies.org/give. Your donation will make a tremendous difference.
In short, to echo the sentiment expressed now across the Costa Rican and South African tourism sectors, please don’t cancel – postpone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKNwYsCfSSI (Video Credit and thanks to Adam Baker and Namu Travel Group)
To all of you, thank you and stay safe. We greatly appreciate the support and unity of our OTS community, and we will get through this together.
Dr. Elizabeth Braker