“I’m very pleased with what I have seen,” said Minister Bartlett following an extensive tour recently to examine large and small hotels and villas and concluding that: “The properties are fully compliant.”
The tour, was the latest in a series of onsite inspections of properties located along COVID-19 Resilient corridors led by Minister Bartlett to examine properties that are certified in terms of requirements under Jamaica’s health and safety protocols. The tour entailed stops at Riu Palace Tropical Bay and Rondel Village in Negril as well as Zimbali Culinary Retreats; Bluefields Bay Villas and Whitehouse. The Minister also handed over an ambulance valued at $18 million to the Negril Fire Station, which was financed by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
Defending the push to reopen the industry while managing the coronavirus, Mr Bartlett said Jamaica wanted to establish that health security was at the foundation of the country’s tourism destination assurance framework. He is pleased that in this regard, “Jamaica has excelled and I’m excited at how the rest of the world is looking at us and viewing the way in which we have managed this pandemic.”
The Minister said there was a determination “to make sure that tourism toes the line” and supported the call by the Ministry of Health & Wellness that if there are constant cases of breaches “that we must take action, and strong action and we are at the forefront of seeing to it that that happens.”
Minister Bartlett also expressed delight that tourism would soon have a COVID security insurance plan, noting that: “We are in the closing stages of it now and hopefully within the next few weeks we will be able to have the first of that programme established.” This insurance is to provide another layer of coverage to Destination Jamaica, while ensuring that visitors are compliant, in a cost-effective manner.
In response to calls for Jamaica to diversify its economy and not be so heavily dependent on tourism for economic sustainability, Minister Bartlett agreed but pointed out that: “We see tourism in the context of driving a wider and deeper, bigger market for production of goods and services through linkages.”
He highlighted the value of a tourism economy having a huge link with various areas of economic activity, citing for instance: “If we bring more visitors to Jamaica, it means an expanded market for more agricultural produce, for instance, requiring larger plantations or more technologically advanced methods that produce higher quality and greater levels of output, then employ more people and generates more.”