JHTA accuses Gov't of delaying entry approval to visitorsSaturday, August 22, 2020
ST JAMES, Jamaica — Members of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) are fuming, saying that over the last two days thousands of local and international visitors who have booked flights to Jamaica have not been able to do so because of delays in securing approval from the Government to fly.
“What is happening is that they are running out of time because without the authorisation letter the airline will not board you. So people are just no-showing and then you see them calling and cursing and cancelling the bookings. This is now happening in the thousands since the last two days to the point now where Jamaica feels like a true banana republic,” an irate JHTA member told OBSERVER ONLINE.
“People are being delayed, waiting, waiting, waiting to include the days prior to their travel. They are calling; they are calling the Tourist Board, they are calling everybody in the country. Travel agents are calling, tour operators are calling, the visitors are calling and getting no response.”
The JHTA member said that local hoteliers have no problem with the requirement that visitors from all high-risk countries, including the United States, should be pre-tested.
“That in itself is fine. We know how difficult it is to get the pre-test, but you do have persons who have gone out, they have gotten the test, they have applied on the Visit Jamaica website, and they have uploaded their test and everything else, awaiting approval... authorisation to fly,” he said.
Initially, the membership of the JHTA were under the impression that the delay in authorisation stemmed from the increased number of American states where pre-testing was required.
“We thought because of pre-testing for only four states to testing 50 states was the problem and that maybe they just didn't have persons to manually review the actual test results. The test upload to say 'yes, it is negative, yes it is by a certified laboratory which is one of the requirements,” the JHTA said.
But, according to the JHTA, its members are claiming that they have received information that the delay in authorisation is a direct ploy by the Government to reduce the number of travellers to the island in a bid to slow down the spread of COVID-19 cases, which is currently spiking in Jamaica.
“We are understanding that there is a move by the Government to literally not approve these applications to slow down arrivals into the country. Now, this is irresponsible because this is happening to visitors and Jamaicans who have booked their flights, who have gone through the process, just waiting for authorisation to come to Jamaica. People have invested money and time in their travel and the Government has literally taken the eye off the ball simply to slow down, if not stop the arrival of thousands of people without honestly calling them or putting a statement out to say that the country is not accepting as many persons that they would normally accept,” the tourism stakeholders said.
The tourism players conceded that Government should be concerned about the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, but argued that tourism is not responsible for the spike.
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