Jamaica will play a key role in the restoration of global tourism when the coronavirus pandemic ends, is the promise of Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
According to Minister Bartlett, “Jamaica is not just working to help its own tourism sector recover, but is looking to help other Caribbean destinations and international destinations with their tourism rebound… Jamaica is not just talking about itself,” the minister argued, adding that “Jamaica is not just talking about how we build back our product.”
The tourism minister advanced the view that “Jamaica also has an international role that we are playing in helping to build back global tourism.”
Part of that effort will come from the country's Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) in Kingston, which is already working to “provide global responses” to the COVID-19 pandemic.
JAMAICA WORKING WITH AFRICA FOR TOURISM RECOVERY
For example, Jamaica is working with the African Tourism Board on a continent-wide tourism response. In addition, Jamaica is assisting on a technical basis in other areas as tourism interests across the globe draft their post-COVID-19 recovery plans.
Jamaica is also working with the GTRCMC to formulate the strategic approaches in this regard. As it relates to the centre the tourism minister made the point that, “it's a strong step for the centre, which was established to help manage risks related to tourism resilience, from natural disasters to pandemics”.
The centre based at the Mona campus of The University of the West Indies has been given the task of driving the recovery of tourism in the region following the passage of the novel coronavirus disease, which has already debilitated much of the sector.
FIVE MONTHS FOR RECOVERY
In the meantime, Jamaica tourism officials anticipate that the tourism industry could begin to recover in five months.
“I think at about September we will begin to see the turnaround, and I think borders will begin to open and airlines will begin to make initial forays,” Bartlett opined.
However, the tourism minister emphasised that the timeline for recovery depends on how quickly some of the country's source markets pull out of the crisis. The United States is Jamaica's main tourism source market.
The USA and Canada account for some 75 per cent of all the visitors to the island, whether by cruise ships or stopover arrivals.
Industry players say a “new approach” is needed to rebuild the tourism industry in the aftermath of the global pandemic.
That will include stimulus packages and rescue support for the tourism sector “to bounce back as quickly as possible after this crisis”.
Omar Robinson, president of Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA), contends that the question of the tourism revival will be tied in large part to how Jamaica's biggest source markets like the United States are able to control the pandemic.
“The [duration of the] level of uncertainty and the length of time will all be dependent on how quickly our major markets can get their own situation under control,” Robinson said.