Two Jamaica tourism leaders can take a deep breath this weekend and perhaps enjoy a good Jamaican dinner, knowing there is a silver lining on the future of Jamaica and Caribbean tourism. This was endorsed by the United States of America on April 4.
There is also a winning partnership that makes travel to Jamaica like visiting friends or relatives for everyone.
Executive CEO of Sandals, Adam Stewart, and the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, the Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, are both known for having an out-of-the-box approach when it comes to the global travel and tourism industry. Both men worked tirelessly during the COVID pandemic, even announcing a global tourism resilience day on February 17 at the World Expo in Dubai.
The thought of giving in on putting tourism on hold was not even a remote option. Tourism for Jamaica is looking good, and so does tourism for the rest of the Caribbean.
Now Jamaica can welcome Americans again with open arms after the United States has downgraded Jamaica to a Level 1 designation in its latest COVID-19 travel advisory to citizens, its lowest level for COVID-19 risk since the pandemic began. Bartlett and Stewart are convinced that a strong tourism rebound can continue to occur.
Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, who grew up in his family-owned Sandals resort said: “The last few weeks have brought good news to the Caribbean with more destinations across the region including St. Lucia, Jamaica, Barbados, Curaçao, Antigua, and Grenada, all removing travel restrictions and making it easier for visitors to return.
“At Sandals, where we’ve invested over US$45 million to facilitate health protocols and implement our confidence-building Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness and industry-leading Vacation Assurance program, we celebrate this and are working closely with our travel advisor partners to bring customers back and as importantly, with local suppliers to meet increasing demand. Tourism is the bridge to the possibility for so many in the Caribbean – taxi drivers, fishers, farmers, entertainers, and craftspeople, and I am thrilled to see we are all on the road to recovery.”
Sandals like no other tourism business in the world went full speed during COVID keeping the visibility of this all-inclusive luxury resort group. Sandals’ advertising was seen on most major U.S. media, including CNN, FOX, and eTurboNews when hardly anyone else believed or supported tourism promotions.
In December, Sandals announced it was carrying out over US$350 million in investments in Jamaica, with more to follow as it expands and upgrades several properties.
Bartlett said in December: “We have detected an appetite for the Jamaican experience, and we’re also seeing a desire to engage Jamaican brands.”
This positive and productive approach is now slowly paying off for Sandals, and also for Jamaica Tourism, and beyond.
Countries classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as Level 1 have low cases of the virus. Joining just a handful of countries globally at Level 1, Jamaica’s case levels have steadily decreased in recent months.
According to the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, with the destination at its lowest level for COVID-19 risk since the pandemic began, a strong tourism rebound can continue to occur.
“A Level 1 travel advisory is amongst the best news the tourism industry can hope for,” said Minister Bartlett. “This reduced designation is a testament to the work of our government and the Jamaican people as well as a hopeful incentive to keep our tourism recovery moving forward.”
Minister Bartlett noted that visitor arrivals to Jamaica have been increasing with hopes of full recovery in 2023.