Italian tourism market fallout in the wake of coronavirusFriday, March 06, 2020
BY HORACE HINES
Over 200 Italian tourists in Jamaica are now back home after boarding scheduled flights from Montego Bay to the cities of Milan and Verona over the weekend in the shadow of significant novel coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak in sections of that country.
Senior advisor and strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright confirmed with the Jamaica Observer that the visitors are safely home in Italy after vacationing on island.
“They left on scheduled Italian Neos airline flights NO 522 and NO 622 from Montego Bay on Friday, February 28 and Saturday, February 29, respectively. Minister [Edmund] Bartlett and his agencies worked closely with authorities here and in Italy to ensure that stringent protocols were followed and that no more Italian visitors are carried in due to travel restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Health” Seiveright told the Business Observer.
As at February 27, 2020, the growing Italian tourist market came to a halt as the Health Ministry in line with the World Health Organization Situation Report 37 imposed travel restrictions on Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran thereby disallowing persons who have visited those countries, as is the case with China from landing privileges at any of the country's ports of entry.
“The Ministry of Health will continue to assess the situation in light of the spread and will make recommendations for adjustments based on the risk assessment,” indicated Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.
The news dealt a massive blow to successfully led strategies effected by Tourism Minister Bartlett to boost the Italian tourist market. Two years ago Bartlett joined by Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) head, Donovan White, Senior Advisor/Strategist Delano Seiveright, and JTB's Italy executives announced a ramping up of the Italian tourism market with Italian airline Neos confirming an increase in its seating capacity into Jamaica starting May 2018, using a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Bartlett then noted that Italy was among the leading countries being targeted in Jamaica's ongoing European tourism growth strategy, which in 2017 recorded 325,804 European tourist arrivals, approximately 31,000 more than in the previous year.
“We have set an aggressive target for Italy of 20,000 by 2021 and our tour operators' partners, including Alpitour World, are critical to achieving those numbers. Last year we grew the Italian market by 44.5 per cent over the last two years, bringing roughly 14,000 Italians to Jamaica,” Bartlett said then.
As at March 2, Italian officials have reported at least 1,835 infected coronavirus patients and 52 deaths.