Tourism will rise again – Bartlett
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is expressing much confidence that the tourism industry will bounce back by 2023, but he is arguing that much will be dependent on the nation’s capacity to manage the new COVID-19 pandemic requirements for visitors from major markets like the US.
“We were positive we would see our best months yet, (but) unfortunately, COVID-19 cases worldwide are again spiralling and new variants of the virus is cause for much consternation,” Bartlett said, while addressing a virtual meeting of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay on Wednesday. “It is so much so that many countries are tightening travel restrictions.”
“I cannot say what the final outcome of winter may be,” said Bartlett. “... As we speak, I am advised that the presidents of the US, Mexico, and the prime minister of Canada, are soon to meet to discuss border controls and restrictions in the context of the North American Free Trade Agreement.”
According to Bartlett, the optimism going into the 2021 Winter Tourist Season was based on arrival numbers, which had been climbing steadily since the reopening of the nation’s borders on June 15, 2020, and the commitments of over 1.1 million airline seats from major markets at the end of 2020.
On January 12, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an order requiring that all air passengers arriving in the US from a foreign country must be tested no more than three days before their flight departs and that they must present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 before being allowed to board their flight.
“These developments come as no surprise given the growing global trend of increasing testing requirements before travel and generally as a means of curbing the spread of COVID-19,” said Bartlett. “Nevertheless, the UK, USA, and Canada are our three main source markets, which account for some 90 per cent of Jamaica’s visitors.”
“Therefore, you can understand our concern and the tempering of our expectations for the winter season, (but) tourism will rise again in the new normal to lead the way to wider economic and social recovery in this COVID-19 era,” the tourism minister said. “... It is going to be a long, slow process that will require a great deal of patience.”
“By 2023, the tourism industry should be well on its way to full recovery. Sustainability is integral to the recovery process and I want to add that resilience is the benchmark to the process” added Bartlett.