Wed | Apr 14, 2021

Vaccine drives in US, UK spur tourism hope

Published:Thursday | March 4, 2021 | 12:14 AM
Boxes of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma are displayed at a facility in Milton, Ontario, Wednesday.
Boxes of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma are displayed at a facility in Milton, Ontario, Wednesday.

As the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) ramp up their vaccination programmes, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has said that the local tourism sector could benefit from those developments.

The US and UK are key source markets for Jamaica’s hospitality sector.

United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday declared that his administration would have enough vaccine doses for every adult in America by the end of May.

“We think that our proximity to the US; the knowledge of Jamaica as a really very strong destination with the quality products that we have will put us in a good position to benefit from this development in those two source markets,” Bartlett told parliamentarians during Wednesday’s meeting of the Standing Finance Committee, which is examining the 2021-22 Estimates of Expenditure.

Battered by the devastating impact of COVID-19, Bartlett said that the tourism industry furloughed about 130,000 workers in the sector since the onset of the pandemic.

He said that with a gradual recovery under way, “we are seeing a number of those workers coming back”.

In his contribution to the 2020-21 Sectoral Debate last year, Bartlett said that the Statistical Institute of Jamaica had classified direct employment in the tourism sector at 170,000 workers. That includes workers in the accommodations, travel agencies, ground transportation, attractions, and vending subsectors.

He said that from April 1, 2020, to the current period, there were zero cruise arrivals and, consequently, no earnings from the industry.

“The sector has been impacted by a number of stop-and-start activities in the source markets as a result of the varying abilities to manage the pandemic,” said Bartlett.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com