Fri | Mar 22, 2019

Tourism not hurt by advisory – Bartlett

Published:Wednesday | March 13, 2019 | 12:15 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Edmund Bartlett (left), minister of tourism, speaks with Nardia Angus of GoldenEye and Kingsley George Blake of Round Hill Hotel and Villas, who were both among the 19 finalists named for the 2018 Tourism Service Excellence Awards on Tuesday. The event was held at Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says that there is no discernible negative impact from the latest United States travel advisory issued last week for Jamaica.

He said that the Government has brought in respected tourism consultant Dr Peter Tarlow, who is expected to engage various interests and partners in the sector, as well as embassies, in crafting a plan to develop an overall programme for safety and security across the hospitality sector.

Bartlett said that the US State Department-issued level-two advisory for Jamaica, which tells travelers to “exercise increased caution” on their visit to the island because of sexual assaults at all-inclusives.

He told The Gleaner, however, that context was important when trying to address the issue, pointing out that while Jamaica has been placed in level two, there were many other jurisdictions with higher categorisations. Level one indicates that travellers should “exercise normal precautions”, while level two means that persons should “exercise increased caution”. Level three means that persons should “reconsider travel”, while level four states that the citizen should not travel to the designated country.

Bartlett said that source countries periodically carry out these travel-safety evaluations and that they have categorised other countries in various levels.

“We recognise that ours is a continued improvement of the safety and security arrangements to enable our source markets to eventually not issue any advisory at all. And so we are always concerned when there advisories are sent out, and we are working harder to make sure that in every instance, they are eliminated.

“So, we are not unaware that there are issues. The good thing is that costumer-value proposition that Jamaica offers is at such high levels that the visitors come with certain knowledge that they are going to be safe and secure, because our record of visitor safety is exemplary,” Bartlett insisted.

Jamaica, he said, outshone its sister countries in the Caribbean, citing positive visitor arrivals.

“As a matter of fact, this year, so far, is the highest level of growth that we have had from the United States market. We are running 20 per cent and that’s phenomenal, and it’s also a big part of the million visitors we have had in Jamaica in nine weeks,” noted Bartlett.

He was speaking with The Gleaner after delivering his presentation at the announcement for the 19 finalists for the 2018 Tourism Service Excellence Awards at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston yesterday.

The Service Excellence Awards Programme is a project of the Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCo). The programme is aimed at recognising and rewarding both individuals and organisations that exemplify service excellence in the Jamaican tourist sector. Milhaila Robinson and Hyatt Ziva and Zilara won the 2017 individual and organisation awards, respectively.

The final of the award ceremony will be held on Saturday, March 30, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Rose Hall, St James.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com