Jamaica putting tourism back on track
Jamaican tourism is showing signs of rebounding from a coronavirus pandemic that the country’s tourism minister concedes has been crippling for the travel industry.
Edmund Bartlett said during the Nov. 9 beginning of the country’s annual tourism show JAPEX that since the country reopened to visitors on June 15 it has hosted over 211,000 people.
As well, hotel occupancy rates are “slowly inching up…,” he said. “We are cautiously optimistic that we will see a 40% increase in arrivals over the winter when compared to the proceeding period of a massive downturn…
“The coronavirus crisis has brought us to our knees but I can say unreservedly that in time we will arise better than before.”
Bartlett praised the tourism industry for repeatedly showing “remarkable resilience” during various crises.
This year’s JAPEX – held Nov. 9 and 10 – was done virtually as a result of coronavirus. Tourism officials say that enabled them to reach a larger audience than in the past.
Jamaica has created two tourism corridors as part of a strategy to rebuild its tourism trade that are called Resilient Corridors. Barlett said there are “no known cases” of coronavirus in them. The corridors have “COVID-compliant attractions” available for tourists, he added.
Bartlett said those travelling in a post-coronavirus world will differ from earlier travellers. “They will need to be reassured that their safety and well-being has been taken care of when they travel.”
He told viewers that Jamaica has implemented health and safety protocols that have won the approval of the WTTC and his country is one of the most “COVID-resilient countries in the world.” Among steps taken in response to coronavirus is the launch later this month of Jamaica Cares, described as a “travel protection and emergency service program” that provides visitors with coverage for different vacation setbacks, including being diagnosed with coronavirus. The compulsory, US $40 protection includes the likes of medical care and repatriation if necessary.
Meanwhile, Bartlett reported tourism employs one in 10 people worldwide and creates 170,000 jobs in Jamaica.
“Tourism must get back on track,” he stated.
Bartlett added tourism investors are continuing to show confidence in Jamaica, citing new hotels planned for the island.
A JAPEX panel discussion saw Adam Stewart, deputy chairman of Sandals Resorts International, praise Jamaica as a “botanical garden…It’s quite impossible to replicate the beauty of Jamaica.”
Stewart noted Sandals’ division Island Routes has tours that showcase Jamaican landscapes.
That same discussion saw Josef Forstmayr of Round Hill Hotel and Villas state that Jamaica was a pioneer in tourism and can provide visitors with “luxury with a modern touch.”