#MONTEGO BAY, March 23 (JIS): Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says Jamaica remains in dialogue with key international partners in order to minimise the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the global industry.
He told JIS News that the Ministry has been in talks with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the European Union (EU), among others.
He noted that the focus “is on the way forward and steps to be taken in terms of building support mechanisms and to come up with an appropriate plan to address the crisis”.
“We are mindful of the fact that all source markets are either taking strong restrictive measures such as closing their borders or have developed some very elevated protocols, which call for quarantining or heavy screening of visitors who come into their shores,” he pointed out.
“We, however, must ensure that all lines of communication remain open and that we don’t fall into a sense of hopelessness, despite the obvious challenges,” he added.
Mr. Bartlett said that the country, in the short-term, might have to look at placing a lot more emphasis on domestic tourism, adding that creative ways have to be found to assist the hotels that choose to remain open.
He noted, however, that the Ministry of Health and Wellness guidelines relating to mass gatherings and social distancing must be followed.
“I think it is fair to say that traditional tourism the way we know it in Jamaica, the Caribbean and in almost all other areas of the world will require a new approach to building back the industry,” the Tourism Minister said.
He expressed confidence that together, as a nation, we will get over this hurdle… however difficult it might now seem”.
President of the Jamaica, Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, for his part, noted that the level-four travel advisory issued by the United States State Department on March 19 warning citizens not to travel abroad will have a far-reaching impact on the industry.
“Level four is the highest level of alert in a travel advisory, so yes, it will have an impact. It will probably be the deciding factor in hotels/attractions and other tourism entities remaining opened or closed. Each entity will have to make that call, but survival is the key right now,” he noted.
JIS News by GARWIN DAVIS
JIS REGIONAL OFFICE