Tourism players urged to use downtime to improve products
Audley Deidrick, president of the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ), is appealing to stakeholders within the tourism sector to use the downtime caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to improve their facilities to allow them to boost the quality of their post-pandemic offerings.
Deidrick hailed the improvements being made in the local aviation sector as a good thing, citing its symbiotic relationship with the tourism sector.
“In Jamaica, similar to other countries in the Caribbean region that have a heavy dependence on tourism as their economic driver, tourism accounts for over 80 per cent of Jamaica’s aviation traffic. It is our lifeblood. The dependence, therefore, of our aviation traffic on tourism is self-evident,” said Deidrick, while speaking at the recent opening ceremony for a fire station and a resurfaced runway at the Negril Aerodrome last week.
Quoting world and local statistics on the precipitous fall in aviation and tourism since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Deidrick argued that a slow and gradual rebound from what he described as an “abyss” began in Jamaica in June 2020, when the Jamaican borders were reopened for inbound aviation traffic.
“We are still in the recovery stage, so buckle up for the long ride as the pandemic takes various twists and turns. ... It’s a ride for those with resilience,” said the AAJ boss.
Deidrick further noted that historically, there has been more focus on the development of the two major international airports in Jamaica as they were driven by tourism growth from the early 1950s to now. He said that within recent times, upgrading work has started on the domestic aerodromes located across the island in recognition of their wider economic importance and the purposes that they serve.
“So as we look to the post-COVID recovery of our aviation and tourism industries, we must seize the opportunity to improve the facilities which will place us in the forefront of the market when the resurgence begins,” he charged, adding that such a move should be a collaborative effort between the hotel and tourism partners and the wider industry stakeholders.
“Let us, therefore, look forward and plan together with the expectation to emerge better and stronger post-COVID,” added Deidrick.