Compliance team set up as south coast awaits tourism green light
A health and safety protocol is being developed for Jamaica’s south coast as that section of the island anxiously awaits phase two of the reopening of the tourism sector, which was shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While no date has been revealed for the reopening in the area – which includes Treasure Beach, Black River, Mandeville, and Milk River – Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has confirmed that a compliance team was appointed this past weekend. The team is being led by attraction operator John Byles of Chukka and hotelier Jason Henzell of Jake’s Treasure Beach.
Henzell and a number of operators of villas, tour companies, guest houses, shops, and bars last week pressed the Government for a reopening timeline so that they could begin planning for prospective bookings, many from Jamaicans who flock the south coast on weekends.
The Government had missed its June 30 announcement date, having made the promise when a June 15 reopening was announced for the north coast.
“We have first established a team, similar to what is on the north coast so that we can appropriately open Phase 2A,” Bartlett told The Gleaner yesterday, stressing the importance of ensuring strict compliance to health and safety protocols.
A date for the reopening of Phase 2B, which would run from Milk River in Clarendon to Portland in the east, will be released by August, it is anticipated.
Bartlett noted that the Ministry of Tourism’s Recovery Task Force was working to implement a response solution that will allow visitors coming to Jamaica to have full health-security coverage as well as the possible repatriation of COVID-19-positive visitors.
Currently, tourists who test positive for the virus are accommodated at government-paid facilities until their recovery.
“Extensive work has been done on this (insurance) and when complete, it will put Jamaica in a very special position in the marketplace in terms of the country’s response to the crisis,” the tourism minister predicted, adding that it would mean significant savings for the country.