JHTA says Kingston ready for business
Hoteliers appeal for ease in COVID-19 protocolsTuesday, June 22, 2021
THE Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) is appealing to the Government for a relaxation of travel restrictions into Kingston in order to support the recovery of business in the capital city.
Clifton Reader, president of the association – the official private sector umbrella group for hotels, attractions and allied companies on the island – noted that “while there is some improvement at the island's north coast resorts with both foreign and local guests, Kingston is reeling from travel restrictions and protocols imposed as a result of the [novel coronavirus] pandemic. We are calling now for an amendment of these to facilitate both foreign business travellers and Jamaican business travellers returning home from an overseas trip”.
Reader said that “apart from being host to the largest segment of the visiting family and friends (VFR) market, Kingston is essentially a business destination. The hotels there are typically vibrant hubs of itinerant executives visiting to conduct business on behalf of foreign and local companies or attending international fora, along with residents and representatives of local businesses attending meetings, workshops and conferences and social events”.
He noted that since 2020 some hotels in Kingston were closed or saw their businesses severely reduced due to official lockdowns, curfews and border closures. But he argued that despite aggressive vaccination programmes in many markets that have led to the opening of some borders and resumption of air travel to and from Jamaica, Kingston hotels are slow to recover due to the restrictions and protocols that are still in place.
Among the procedures that are a deterrent to the resumption of business travel to Kingston, Reader said, is the requirement for business persons flying into Kingston to have not only the 72-hour pre-arrival test but to also be subject to a mandatory PCR test on arrival, at a cost to the traveller of US$150. He added that it sometimes takes over 72 hours for the travellers to get their test results, during which time they are not allowed to meet and/or conduct any business.
“...The average business trip is 3-5 days, so this requirement of the second mandatory test is not practical. This is worsened for the local business persons returning home as they must also endure a 10-day quarantine even if having two negative tests and/or are fully vaccinated. They similarly are inconvenienced having to delay resumption of their business activity on island,” said Reader.
“Several countries are now allowing quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated travellers but, while Jamaica's vaccination programme is advancing well, we are maintaining an eight-day quarantine period for fully vaccinated persons. Our JHTA members have been strictly following safety and health protocols during the [novel coronavirus] pandemic. Our Kingston properties are open for business and ready to host their local and foreign guests, but the Government must review and relax the protocols that are preventing a recovery,” Reader said.
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