Oof! Major tour operator, TUI pulls out due to COVID-19Monday, March 16, 2020
BY HORACE HINES
MONTEGO BAY, St James —The local travel industry has been dealt a severe blow as travel giants TUI has immediately suspended all its flights to Jamiaca, in the wake of travel restrictions imposed by governments worldwide battling the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease pandemic.
“In the meantime, we are taking the steps to organise return flights for the customers who continue their stay in your [Jamaica] hotel(s),” global travel giant, TUI, said in a letter to local partners over the weekend. “It's crucial that we work together closely to minimise the impact on them for the remainder of their holiday.”
TUI consists of major tour operators, 1,600 travel agencies and leading online portals, five airlines with around 150 aircraft, over 400 hotels, 18 cruise liners, and many incoming agencies in all major holiday destinations around the globe.
Senior Strategist Delano Seiveright noted that Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett and other tourism officials have commenced work with tourism stakeholders to respond to the serious challenges facing the sector from COVID-19.
“Minister Bartlett and other officials have been in direct contact with owners and executives of tourism businesses including hotels, attractions, ground transportation operators and so on as we begin to work through the huge challenges. TUI's moves is by and large a global one as nations essentially restrict non-essential travel thereby virtually bringing to a halt leisure travel,” Seiveright said.
He added that TUI operates approximately 10 flights per week between the United Kingdom and Montego Bay and also home ports for cruises in Montego Bay. Over 1.5 million room nights were sold in Jamaica last year alone representing over 70 per cent of tourist traffic between the UK and Jamaica.
At present, travel restrictions are in place in relation to countries such as China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, France, Spain, Germany, Iran, and more recently the United Kingdom.
Only Jamaican citizens, their spouses, children, and people who have Jamaican residency will be allowed entry into Jamaica if they have travelled to any of these countries within 14 days of arriving in Jamaica.
Upon entry, based on the risk assessment, these persons will be placed in a quarantine facility or home quarantined.