Tourism $$ roll in
Industry seeing bounce despite COVID-19Friday, October 30, 2020
BY HORACE HINES
ROSEHALL, St James — Jamaica earned more than US$250 million between June and the end of September from tourism, despite the blow delivered to the industry by COVID-19, according to Ed Bartlett, the Government minister with responsibility for the sector.
“Preliminary figures from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) indicate that since reopening on June 15 we have recorded a little over 200,000 passengers to the country, [and] June to September earnings amounted to just over US$250 million,” Bartlett said yesterday at the ground-breaking ceremony for a new development at The Shoppes at Rose Hall in St James.
He added that airlift commitments to the island continue to increase, describing that as “a good indicator” of demand among travellers waiting or making bookings.
“The JTB is maintaining strong engagement with tour operators and airline companies to drive bookings for the winter, and already seat support out of key markets include the USA – 567,427 seats, Canada – 166,032 seats, United Kingdom – 1,801 seats, and Continental Europe – 45,311 seats,” the tourism minister said.
Jamaica closed its borders to incoming passenger traffic in March after the first few cases of COVID-19 were reported in the island. The move resulted in the island reportedly losing approximately US$15 million daily from an industry which contributed approximately US$3.7 billion to the economy from 4.3 million arrivals last year, and which provides direct employment to 170,000 people as well as indirect income to another 200,000.
Since the reopening of the borders, the island has been welcoming visitors, and stakeholders in the sector have reported that there have been no cases of COVID-19 transmission from visitors to tourism workers or from workers to visitors.
Meanwhile, guests at yesterday's ground-breaking ceremony were told that The Shoppes at Rose Hall will be reimaged, repurposed and rebranded into a Linkages Centre of Excellence to provide visitors with a place that showcases the best of Jamaica.
The venue will provide authentic Jamaican experiences in the areas of gastronomy, local products, health and wellness offerings, local entertainment, and the use of the latest technology to drive traffic from nearby hotels.
“We want the best jerk, the best ice cream, patties, coffee, ganja products, fresh fruits, the best rum, ointments, et cetera. We want to infuse reggae, dancehall, ska, rocksteady and show our culture to our visitors. Most importantly, we need to be authentic,” Linkages Centre of Excellence Chief Executive Officer Anup Chandiram explained.
He added that an integral part of the plan is to showcase and sell designer products made in Jamaica.
“Names like Jae Jolly, Carlton Brown, Mara Made, DrennaLUNA, David Pinto, Bridget Sandals, Cuya are well known to us in Jamaica, but most visitors never get to encounter them. We want to expose small manufacturers who do not export to the consumer. The best part is when the visitor goes back home and they become the envy of their friends,” Chandiram said.
Bartlett hailed Chandiram for his innovative spirit.
“Clearly what you have embarked upon here speaks to the fact that the vision that led to the establishment of this complex in the first place has not been lost, and that you, too, share the belief that tourism will rebound and return to the growth trajectory it was on up to 10 months ago,” the tourism minister said.
“Although concerns continue in our major markets, we are already seeing positive signs of buoyancy, which offer encouragement as we rebuild the tourism economy and continue to contribute meaningfully to the rebuilding of the national economy,” he added.
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