Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Bartlett warns against sterile treatment of tourists

Published:Monday | June 29, 2020 | 12:37 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer


Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has urged Jamaica’s hotel staff and other hospitality stakeholders not to lose their good-naturedness in trying to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19.

The minister’s comments came during his Sectoral Debate presentation in the Lower House of Parliament last week.

“While implementing these health and safety protocols, we are being mindful not to overshadow the ‘heart and soul of Jamaica’, which has made us such an attractive destination for locals and visitors alike,” Bartlett said.

“We do not want sanitisation and physical distancing to create a sterile culture. We will continue to infuse our vibrancy, warmth, and culture in everything we do,” the minister added.

Bartlett was explaining the inner workings of the World Travel & Tourism Council ‘Safe Travels’ stamp, which Jamaica received recently and which allows travellers to recognise governments and companies around the world that have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols.

He said that the Ministry of Tourism was currently in late-stage discussions with insurance and global logistics providers, which will allow for travellers who test positive to be quickly isolated and repatriated.

“These costs will be covered privately, thus reducing the strain on our public-health system, making sure healthcare capacity remains consistent for our workers and communities,” he said.

“An element of protection is being prepared for emergency response. It is critical to be prepared for the risk that we may encounter a COVID-19-positive case so we can respond quickly and decisively. All workers will have access to an onsite, trained COVID-19 Safety Point Person and an onsite or on-call medical professional,” he added.

In the meantime, Bartlett said that beyond COVID-19, the Jamaica Tourist Board’s ‘Heartbeat of the World’ campaign was leveraging the island’s natural assets to reinforce its position as a global leader among travel destinations, including promoting the island as a wellness destination.

“I believe that in our current COVID-19 world, health will be the new wealth. Visitors will continue to seek experiences, but they will be looking through holistic wellness lens. This includes wellness programmes, natural beauty treatments, and fresh food, with fewer travel miles,” he explained.

“This makes Jamaica an easy fit for the new normal because this has always been our focus,” he added.