Tourism is the lifeblood of many islands in the Caribbean and Jamaica is no exception. In a little over a month since the people’s favorite island reopened its borders to tourist with all the necessary safety measures in place, Jamaica has earned almost $80 million in revenue from around 40,000 tourists.
Jamaica, which began welcoming international travelers on June 15, said it had to open its borders in order to save its economy which could lose $10.3 billion, including $762.8 million in the tourism sector if it remains closed.
“Tourism is our lifeblood, and with the help of international experts and a dedicated task force, we’ve developed protocols that allow us to safely reopen our borders,” said director of tourism, Donovan White.
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The island’s tourism sector employs about 350,000 workers, contributing more than one-third of the country’s economy. Jamaica is the largest of the Caribbean’s tourism economies to reopen since it reported its first case of COVID-19 in March.
According to the Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, this achievement has been credited to the safety measures implemented by the government to ensure the safety of its people and tourists alike.
One such prominent measure is the establishment of a resilient corridor along the northern coast of the island, which is being hailed as one of the first among tourist destinations in the world. This enabled thousands of Jamaicans employed by the tourism industry to return to their jobs.
Now, the opening of the southern coast resilient corridor last week has also allowed about 10,000 more workers to resume their duties.
“The Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world and here in Jamaica, we know that tourism is integral to our survival. As the nation’s largest economic engine, Jamaica’s travel and tourist industry employs 170,000 workers and impacts an additional 120,000 jobs from other industries, fuelling more than one third of the country’s economy,” said Bartlett.
The world has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and it has affected every aspect of the world’s economy. Jamaica reported the worst decline in their Real GDP in the last four decades amid the pandemic.
Although there is no vaccine, people’s livelihoods depend on the tourism industry in Jamaica and until there is a mass vaccine, the island is doing all it can to mitigate risks so as to be able to “restart our economy smartly and safely, ensuring a safe, secure and seamless experience for our citizens, tourism workers and their families and visitors,” Bartlett added.
According to Bartlett, there has been consultations with health experts around the world to establish “a comprehensive set of protocols to guide those in the tourism sector.”
These comprehensive safety protocols were compared with 20 other viable markets around the world and deliberated on by global health agencies who liaised with the national security, ministries of health and wellness, and foreign affairs and foreign trade.
“We are all seeing and feeling the societal shift in mindset, including how we travel. There is a sense of anticipation, of wanting to reconnect with nature and with people.
“For this to happen there must be an imperative that we work together across sectors to develop a framework that prioritizes the health of our citizens, along with traveler confidence and safety,” said Bartlett.