Buoyed by the success of the resilient corridor in safeguarding Jamaica’s tourism against the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), discussions have begun regarding the return of cruise ships to the port of Falmouth.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett disclosed that as recent as Wednesday, he was in was discussion “with Disney Cruise about their plans for coming back to Falmouth shortly. They made reference to our resilient corridor as the signature statement of how destinations can make their areas safer for travel and tourism in the future.”
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new development at The Shoppes at Rose Hall, St. James, on Thursday (Oct 29), Minister Bartlett said, “Although concerns continue in our major markets, we are already seeing positive signs of buoyancy which offer encouragement as we rebuild the tourism economy and continue to contribute meaningfully to the rebuilding of the national economy.”
He said preliminary figures from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) indicated that since reopening on June 15, Jamaica has recorded a little over 200,000 passengers to the country with June to September earnings amounting to just over US$250 million.
Meanwhile, he noted that with the reopening of global economies, air travel was being restored “and we are cautiously optimistic that we will see a 40 percent increase in arrival over the winter season when compared to the preceding period before the massive downturn.” Also, “airlift continues to increase and this is a good indicator that there is demand by travelers, waiting or indeed making bookings to travel.”
Mr. Bartlett said the JTB, the Ministry of Tourism’s marketing arm, was maintaining strong engagements with operators and airline companies to drive bookings for the winter “and already seat support out of key markets include the US 567,427, Canada 166,032, the United Kingdom 1,801 and continental Europe overall, 45,311 seats.”
The Tourism Minister publicly thanked Jamaicans both at home and in the diaspora for their contribution to the occupancy levels hotels have been enjoying. To date, there has been no known case of the COVID-19 virus among hotel guests or staff and about 30 percent of tourism workers were back on their jobs.
Strides are being made in laying the groundwork for the full reopening of the tourism sector in Jamaica, in a safe and responsible manner, he said.
“We understand the eagerness of all our tourism workers to get back on the job to support their families and the industry, and assure them that every possible effort is being made to expedite the recovery of the industry. In the meantime, however, they can play their part by encouraging those with whom they come in contact to practice the protocols laid down by the Ministry of Health that will facilitate an early recovery from COVID-19,” said Minister Bartlett.
He noted that while Jamaica’s health and safety protocols were working and stand out as testament to the high level of compliance by tourism stakeholders, so much so that other tourism destinations were seeking to follow suit, there is no room for complacency. “But there is a measure of comfort in the fact that the united effort taken in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders, is paying off handsomely as we take bold and decisive steps to safeguard everyone,” he said.
Earlier this week, another layer was added to existing health and safety measures to reassure visitors of Jamaica’s resilience against the coronavirus with the launch of an end-to-end health insurance, repatriation, and logistics program branded as “Jamaica Cares.”