Bartlett applauds tourism sector for managing COVID pandemicMonday, July 26, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica— Minister of Tours, Edmund Bartlett is applauding the tourism sector for the way in which it has managed the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the ministry, the sector has maintained a near 100 per cent compliance rate along the resilient corridors since the reopening of the island's borders to international travel in June 2020.
Bartlett credited the relentless effort of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), working with the Ministries of Health and Local Government in policing the resilient corridors and punishing reported breaches over the past year, for enabling the high level of compliance by tourism entities.
Bartlett was speaking on the weekend at the launch of Key Advantage Training & Recruitment Solutions (KATRS), Jamaica's latest addition to the education and skills training landscape. The company has targeted the tourism and business process outsourcing (BPO) sectors in particular but also markets its services to the sales and retail industries.
While noting the general success of the sector in managing the pandemic Bartlett said that complacency and breaches will not be tolerated.
Aware that other sectors are seeking to introduce systems to manage the coronavirus, the minister said, “We stand ready to assist in enabling the complete management of the pandemic,” adding that if all come together to drive that level of management, “we will be able to carry through this process of enabling low infection rates.”
According to the ministry, the COVID-19 positivity rate within the corridor is at 0.6 per cent and the tourism minister is confident that the sector will be able to manage and mitigate the effects of variants when they reach Jamaica.
“Tourism has been a responsible partner; we have invested in it and the hoteliers have burnt cash in the last 14 months to try and keep the sector together and the recovery that we are experiencing is a function of that sacrifice; we don't want to lose that,” he said.
He said there was still a far way to go, citing that an estimated 125,000 tourism workers are not yet back in their jobs. The tourism industry employs some 175,000 workers, most of whom were displaced when COVID-19 brought international travel to a standstill last year. Over the past six months, 50,000 workers have been reengaged. “We have to move to get back the rest,” Bartlett said.
“So, we cannot stop the process now; we have to recommit ourselves to the task of going beyond our sector now and to work with the other sectors to make sure that the level of compliance that we have achieved can be achieved for all,” he added.
On the issue of vaccine availability, he said tourism was working on a response with an initiative that could see a designated arrangement finalised for tourism workers to receive their vaccines. The outcome will be known in another week.
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