Prime minister Holness told members of the media that the protocols for the reopening are being studied by the COVID-19 Economic Task Force that was appointed to ensure that all protocols, especially those relating to health, are at a point where they can militate against the risk of reopening.
He said tourism minister Edmund Bartlett, has been working with the industry to establish the methodology for reopening, pointing out that “whatever protocols are finally decided on, as we have done with all the others, we will go into public discourse, then we will start with a trial phase, and then with a final reopening once we have ironed out all the issues,” he said.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister said the reopening date will likely be around the time when other countries are opening their tourism sector.
“With the closure of the global tourism industry, we had no choice here but to close our hotels, but we must be prepared for the day when we reopen. We will not allow the crisis to cripple us to the point where we don’t take preparatory action,” he said.
“We have to be timing [it] very carefully, because other countries are going to reopen and people are going to travel, and Jamaica must be the number-one destination for travel — that is how we recover stronger from crisis,” Holness informed.
He said other countries have already started preparing to reopen their industry, hence Jamaica must also be ready, especially given that the 170,000 workers who are employed in the sector are anticipating the reopening.
Minister Bartlett, for his part, emphasised that the tourism industry is not just critical to the local economy but also to the global economy. Therefore, he indicated that reviving the industry is a priority and that the team is working assiduously to get the industry back on track.
“All of our stakeholders, the hoteliers, the airlines, the travel agencies and the attractions, we have established probably one of the strongest teams ever assembled for the business of building the tourism fabric in our country. We are satisfied that within a short period of time and in consultation with all the stakeholders and partners… we will be able to announce a specific date that we will begin opening the tourism industry,” he said.
Bartlett emphasised that a return to travel is critical for the global economy, pointing out that across the world, travel and tourism account for 11 per cent of the world’s GDP and create more than 320 million jobs for workers serving 1.4 billion travellers annually.
He said that Jamaica is pioneering this new perspective because of the country’s well-earned reputation in the art of resiliency and also knowing the importance of recovering quickly from difficult conditions.
“As an island nation, we have always had to think about resilience. Last year, working with the University of the West Indies, we formed the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre and we quickly developed sister centres around the world,” the Minister added.
Bartlett said that currently, global tourism ministries are working on policy frameworks that are essential to tackling the health and safety, transport, destination and overall approach to tourism resilience.
“The most resilient economies will be driving the recovery, and travel and tourism will be a multiplier and an employment engine across all sectors,” Mr. Bartlett said.
In the meantime, Sandals Resorts have scueduled to reopen their properties on the 4th of June 2020. A statement from Sandals says "we are pleased to announce that all our resorts (with the exception of ourt Bahamas resorts) are scheduled to reopen on June 4 2020. (This includes Antigua,m Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Turks & Caicos). Our Bahamas locations have a scheduled opening date of June 15, 2020."
- Countries: Jamaica
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