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Tourism interests optimistic that UK travel to Jamaica will rebound

Published:Monday | May 10, 2021 | 12:25 PM
In order to allow international travel to resume for its citizens, the UK has introduced a traffic light system, effective May 17, which assigns a colour of red, amber or green to countries, each carrying varying degrees of restriction based on their COVID-19 risks.

Tourism interests in the United Kingdom are expressing optimism that travel to Jamaica and other Caribbean countries will rebound amid the new tiered system being introduced by the UK.

On the heels of Jamaica opening its borders to allow UK flights to resume carrying tourists and overseas residents to the island after a four-month suspension due to COVID-19, Britain last week placed Jamaica on its amber list of countries as it advised against unnecessary travel.

In order to allow international travel to resume for its citizens, the UK has introduced a traffic light system, effective May 17, which assigns a colour of red, amber or green to countries, each carrying varying degrees of restriction based on their COVID-19 risks, including levels of infections or whether any new coronavirus variants are in circulation in the destination.

The green list, which will be reviewed every three weeks by the Department for Transport, has identified 17 countries where British nationals can visit without not having to quarantine on their return, while countries on the amber list will require travellers to face rigid test protocols and home quarantine on their return.

Visitors to red list countries will have to undergo state quarantine measures.

Jamaica along with other Caribbean destinations have been placed on the amber list, a move which will curtail some people, especially tourists, from making immediate travel plans about visiting these destinations.

Despite this, however, Jamaica Tourist Board's UK and Europe Regional Director, Elizabeth Fox, feels optimistic that before long the tourist market will pick up as travellers get used to the protocols that will be required.

“We expect tourism to resume to Jamaica, however, the testing and quarantine requirements on arrival back into the UK will, no doubt, cause some people to think about whether they delay their trip while others will still go and accept the protocols. The great thing about Jamaica is that there is no quarantine for a tourist staying in the resilience corridor on arrival there,” said Fox.

“The country's innovative Jamaica Cares strategy is an entire destination-wide response to the pandemic that includes the establishment of 'resilient corridors', allowing visitors to enjoy their holidays freely in these areas without quarantining on their arrival. The island's extensive health and safety protocols, developed in conjunction with authorities across health and tourism sectors, were among the first to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council's Safe Travels recognition. COVID-19 testing capacity has also been increased to accommodate on-island testing for passengers in preparation for their return flights,” she added.

And, Karl Thompson, Managing Director of Unique Caribbean Holidays Ltd, the UK tour operator for Sandals and Beaches Resorts, is hopeful that Caribbean destinations will be included on the green list soon.

“We're disappointed that Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are not on the Government's green list but we're hopeful that this will change as the list is reviewed in the coming weeks. We know that Sandals and Beaches Resorts' customers are desperate to travel and we're looking forward to the time when we can get them back to Jamaica again when it is safe to do so,” he said.

“Encouragingly, our customers are still booking holidays for future travel to all of our destinations including Jamaica so we remain cautiously optimistic about the future. As soon as Caribbean countries are added to the green list, I am sure that the travel industry will band together and work hard to convert the pent-up demand into bookings, allowing travellers to finally go on their well-deserved dream holidays,” Thompson continued.

In its travel advisory issued last week, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office also reminded citizens that it is illegal to travel abroad from the UK for holidays, adding that only essential travels could be allowed and people can only leave the UK if they have a reasonable excuse.

- George Ruddock

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