Jamaica is preparing to reopen for international tourism this month

Jun 1 2020, 7:50 pm

Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism and the country’s overall tourism industry is collaborating with local and international experts to create a comprehensive list of guidelines to ensure that it is “the most COVID-resilient tourist destination globally.”

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett posted an announcement on Facebook on Sunday detailing how the Government of Jamaica will be reopening its borders for the repatriation of citizens as of today, June 1. He also outlined that the country will be opening its borders to international travellers as of June 15.

According to a post published by the Jamaican Information Service, Bartlett states that a summer resumption of the tourism industry could see visitor arrivals at an average of 20 to 30%, with the estimate rounding down to 20% in the fall and rising back up to 60 or 70% in the winter.

“We could end up with another two million visitors – somewhere around 50 percent of last year if we can have a summer start… between June and August,” he explains.

Bartlett continues that the first two months of 2020 were “strong” in terms of the tourism industry, with 5.5% gross tourism arrivals, bringing in 1.25 million visitors and earning USD $859 million, which would have put the country on a trajectory to make $4 billion by the end of the year, with 4.5 million visitors.

“We were doing extremely well,” he explains. “However, as of March 10, the numbers fell to zero. You can imagine the horror of that moment! That’s a big blow.”

The Caribbean region is one of the most dependent on the tourism industry in the world, with a significant portion of its economy reliant on the business of international travellers.

According to Bartlett, before the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry of Jamaica was on its way to enter its 10th consecutive year of growth.

“Following a record-breaking year in 2019, tourism receipts for January and February indicated that the sector was growing at a rate of 5.2% in 2020,” he describes. Now, the industry is facing uncertain and unprecedented difficulties.

In a press release from the Ministry of Tourism on May 12, Bartlett outlined the development of various protocols and guidelines that will be implemented to ensure the health and safety of residents, workers in the tourism industries, and travellers in Jamaica through the creation of a Ministry of Tourism Task Force and Post COVID-19 Protocol.

According to Bartlett, the measures contain a number of responses that workers within the industry will have to implement as well as various adjustments to infrastructure that hotels and other accommodation facilities will need to adhere to.

“It will also involves some changes at the airports and the seaports. So, it’s a pretty comprehensive set of protocols covering all points of entry, as well as the experience of the visitor within the destination,” he explained.

According to a release published yesterday, the Ministry of Tourism submitted an 88-page document outlining these procedures for the Ministry of Health and Wellness to review.

Note: As border closures and travel restrictions begin to lift, health authorities are reminding individuals to monitor themselves for any signs of COVID-19. If you are feeling unwell, it is recommended you stay at home. If you do decide to travel, follow the health and safety precautions and protocols outlined by the departure and arrival locations you will be travelling to/from.

Emily RumballEmily Rumball

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