KINGSTON, JAMAICA – Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has announced a five-point recovery plan for the country’s tourism sector that includes a “staggered reopening” of entities.
“We do not see reopening as being a one-shop activity that immediately, everywhere will be opened. We think that reopening will be on a staggered basis as we build our own capacity to receive the large number of visitors whom we are accustomed to having in Jamaica and, indeed, to bring more in the long run than we had in the past,” he said.
Minister Bartlett was addressing a digital press conference from his New Kingston offices on Wednesday (May 13).
The other components of the recovery strategy are developing robust health and safety protocols, which will be able to withstand local and international scrutiny; training for all segments of the sector to manage the new protocols and behaviour patterns; and building the COVID-19 safety and security infrastructure, including acquisition of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), machines and tools that are emerging.
He noted that communication with the local and international markets is an integral component of the plan.
“Already, we are on a number of international circuits talking about Jamaica’s preparedness and our readiness. We are making contact with the trade media and making sure that they understand what we are doing here and how we are preparing [for] the next wave of visitors to our shores,” he said.
Minister Bartlett informed that the tourism recovery taskforce in the Ministry will be fine-tuning the strategies over the coming days.
A working group chaired by Wilfred Baghaloo of PricewaterhouseCoopers, with support from a technical subcommittee, will be holding extensive consultations with tourism stakeholders, including the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), to discuss recommended timelines for reopening and protocols to be implemented within the tourism entities.
The team will be looking at ground transportation providers and tour operators; airports and the airports service providers; and immigration, with the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) playing a key role in this process.
Minister Bartlett said that meetings will be held with small and large players in the industry “to make sure that everybody is aligned and we are on track to achieve the objectives of a COVID-secure destination”.
“We will be looking also how to work with the Ministry of Health in all aspects of ensuring that testing and tracing are enhanced within the tourism sector, because we want to make sure that all our tourism workers and, indeed, the communities that are around the tourism plants are as protected as possible,” he said.
“Jamaica must become COVID resilient and that is what is driving this taskforce – developing the protocols and developing all the elements that are going to come together to enable a reopening,” he added.
Minister Bartlett noted that tourism contributes 9.5 per cent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 60 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings.
He added the sector directly employs 170,000 persons and at least 150,000 indirectly.
“Tourism is indeed the lifeblood of Jamaica, and for economic recovery to happen, tourism must recover,” Mr. Bartlett said.