Reopening tourism sector crucial to safeguarding livelihoods, says Bartlett

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Reopening tourism sector crucial to safeguarding livelihoods, says Bartlett

Thursday, June 04, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett says the reopening of the sector is crucial to assisting the over 350,000 industry workers who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also noted that many tourism enterprises are at severe economic risk due to the global health crisis.

Speaking at a digital media briefing earlier today, Bartlett said, “I am mindful of the public sentiment that we are moving too fast and this will pose a health risk to the Jamaican people. I want to assure you that the reopening will be carried out safely and in a way, that protects our frontline tourism workers, Jamaican citizens and our visitors. As our Prime Minister stresses, we must continue to protect lives while securing our livelihoods.”

According to the ministry, it recently donated 10,000 masks to frontline industry workers as part of the its wider work to safeguard the wellbeing of workers when the sector reopens.

“We are spending just a little over $5 million in this exercise and we are excited because not only is the initiative facilitating the provision of much-needed protective cover, but is contributing to economic sustainability by generating opportunities for small enterprises to create a cottage industry through the making of masks. Some 22 small entrepreneurs were engaged to make these masks,” Bartlett said.

He also noted that the country's economy was severely impacted by the shutdown of the tourism industry.

According to the ministry, the estimated overall loss to the economy from visitor expenditure from stopover arrivals is $107.6 billion, while the projected loss of direct tourism revenue to the Government due to COVID-19 from April 2020 to March 2021 is $38.4 billion.

“Tourism is big business – 80 per cent of which is small business – the restaurants, craft vendors, tour and transportation operators, attractions, bars, duty-free shops. Due to tourism's transversal nature and the linkages with other productive sectors, it also stimulates agriculture, manufacturing and the creative economy,” Bartlett explained.

“It is within this context that we are anxious to revive tourism, which has been severely crippled by the pandemic,” he said.

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