Tweak tourism protocols and we have a proven blueprint for reopening Jamaica's economySunday, June 13, 2021
When the history is written on Jamaica's approach to recovery from the novel coronavirus pandemic, one of the brightest chapters will be on the tourism industry and its development of a disciplined, focused and protocol-based blueprint for reopening the sector safely.
We are pleased to see that that blueprint is being offered to the entertainment industry, and generally any other sector which might not have the resources to craft their own reopening template but only need to tweak the tourism industry's approach.
Now that the sleeping giant, the events and entertainment industry, has awaken to find itself at the back of the pack in the reopening of the economy, there are those who are looking around for someone or something to blame for their own sluggish response.
They are pitching on the tourism industry, claiming rather disingenuously that the achievements by the sector were a result of its enjoyment of preferential treatment, and not its own effort driven by strong and forward-looking leadership.
Maybe one shouldn't take them seriously because we do have a propensity in this country to play down even spectacular achievements in the saying “ah nuh nutten”.
Larger countries winning a first-time bronze medal at the Olympics or World Championships treat their winning athlete like national heroes. For Jamaicans, a silver medal, or even a gold medal in some cases, is often no more than a nine-day wonder.
But what the tourism industry has done for Jamaica in clearing a pathway for reopening safely from COVID-19, is no mere nine-day wonder. Those who were paying attention saw the extent of the collaboration, the agility and the depth of the approach to craft a safe reopening plan, utilising technical and medical advice from local and global companies.
This began almost as soon as the country was shut down in late March last year when the umbrella Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) assembled a team drawing from its wide stakeholder groups involving Government, hotels and attractions and all their component parts and linkages.
By April 23, 2020 the team had a first draft on its way to creating what is now popularly known as a resilient corridor. That was fine-tuned and on the desks of the very hands-on Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett and his colleague Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton for consultation with Cabinet and subsequent sign off on May 10, 2020.
It's somewhat of a record for Jamaica's problem-laden bureaucracy. The sense of conviction, collaboration and determination of the tourism leaders made it possible for the Government to give the go-head for the industry to reopen in mid-June 2020.
The economy, sinking day by day, could not wait another minute. Bear in mind that the industry is responsible for a huge portion of the country's earnings.
The resilient corridor has since performed beyond all expectations, proving that the protocols work. The positivity rate of infections is an astounding 0.6 per cent, established through testing of all visitors at the end of their stay.
We are fortunate to have this successful road map to restart the events and entertainment industry.
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