Negril hoteliers want more properties to be COVID-19 protocol compliant

Observer West writer

Thursday, July 09, 2020

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NEGRIL, Hanover - Hoteliers in the resort town of Negril whose businesses are certified as being COVID-19 protocol compliant, are calling on the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), to bring the scores of uncertified tourism-related establishments in the town on board.

The businessmen fear that failing to do so could result in the spread of the coronavirus in that resort town.

“We are concerned that only some of the businesses in Negril have been certified COVID resilient. So, we are concerned about the others that are not, and we need some kind of outreach programme to get to them... so that all the players in the industry can be on board. We want a more wholesome approach to preventing COVID in Negril, than just targeting the licensed hotels,” said Richard Wallace, a hotelier and president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce.

“Because of the nature of Negril, where we have a lot of small properties not just small hotels, but small businesses around, we have a lot of small restaurants, bars, jerk chicken man, vendors, and all these other entities [that are not certified],” added Wallace.

The island's tourism industry was reopened in June after it was brought to a halt in March due to the arrival of the COVID-19 on the island.

The reopening followed a number of measures put in place by hotels, the ports of entry, the tourism ministry, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in an effort to mitigate against the spread of the virus.

However, Wallace noted that up to last Friday, only 20 accommodations, one car rental company, two water sports entities, and two attractions were certified by TPDCo as being COVID-19 protocol compliant tourism entities.

Wallace, who operates Boardwalk Village, a registered and certified property in Negril, told the Jamaica Observer West yesterday that “this is a fraction of all the entities out there providing services in Negril”.
“While TPDCo is trying to certify the properties that are registered, there are a lot of unregistered properties that are slipping through the cracks. And, what we are concerned about is that Negril is a community where our guests move around to all of these entities. So, what is the point of some hotels being COVID resilient when the jerk man across the street or down the road is not?” he asked.

“We understand that it will be challenging for the Government to certify everybody because, even before COVID, there were a lot of unlicensed businesses in Negril, and across Jamaica. So, what we want is some form of educational programme that would, at least, reach out to all the players in the industry, all the small guys to let them know the importance of protecting their businesses, protecting themselves, and protecting their customers by following protocols and putting things in place, even if they are not licensed.”

Another hotelier, Daniel Grizzle, a past president of the chamber, who expressed similar sentiments, said “the situation is a failure of TPDCo to have all players in the industry, both big and small, on board”.

“What he [Wallace] said is correct. I think it is a failure on the part of TPDCo on a whole,” Grizzle stressed, adding that “you have to have a programme in which you get all of us on board.”

“The industry is not a single entity. The industry that we have it includes everyone. TPDCo needs to urgently put in place a programme to bring all of us up to standard. They need to get out of the office, be on the street, be among the people, and get the programme going as a wholesome programme,” said Grizzle, who operates two properties in Negril.

The Observer West was unable to get a comment on the matter from Dr Andrew Spencer, the executive director of TPDCo, as calls made to his mobile phone went unanswered, while a response was not forthcoming up to press time regarding messages left with the company for a comment.

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