6,000 visitors expected in two weeks, says Bartlett

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has announced that Jamaica will welcome 70 flights, which will transport roughly 6,000 visitors to the island, between June 15 and the end of the month — the initial phase of the staggered reopening of the tourism sector.

The visitors will all be required to be tested for the novel coronavirus.

“On the 15th we will have seven flights that will come in, and during the period — 15th to 30th — we are expecting to have 70 flights into Jamaica. That will bring us somewhere in the region of about 5,000 to 6,000 visitors over that period,” said Bartlett, who was speaking during a virtual press conference yesterday.

He stressed that flights coming into the island is very important.

“It’s a start, and it’s a start that is going to be vital, because we need to ensure that capacity is there to manage that kind of flow, and health and security as well as tourism are going to be special players in ensuring that [overall] management,” the tourism minister said.

The primary source market for most of the visitors will be the United States, Bartlett said.

He reiterated that during the initial phase of the reopening of the tourism sector visitors will be restricted to the COVID-19 ‘Resilient Corridor’, established between Negril and Port Antonio.

“The corridor will embrace small, medium villas, apartments and all the accommodation facilities within that area. We are not yet opening to sporting facilities, to attractions, to nightclubs, and so on. Those are not on for this first phase, nor are we doing in this phase the south coast and the middle of the island.

“We want to focus on the northern area, where [there are] quite a number of tourism properties… But the good news is we are able to manage this area and [the] health [ministry] is able to coordinate and to do the tracing that is necessary. And [there is] the infrastructure for health support in that area, so we will be able to manage the risk better to ensure that there is limited possibilities for community spread,” Bartlett explained.

He revealed that the the Tourism Product Development Company has certified a number of properties, 35 of which are ready to actually start welcoming visitors.

In fact, Bartlett noted that Jamaica has been given the thumbs up by the World Travel and Tourism Council for its protocols.

“The international community has seen and has given their full affirmation and, indeed, the Jamaica protocols are the only one in the world, so far, that have had the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) travel seal of approval, that it is indeed an acceptable protocol,” the tourism minister said.

He explained that a similar go-ahead will be sought from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) soon.

“We are also working… with UNWTO for their seal of approval so that Jamaica will have also its protocol approved by the two mega entities — the UNWTO and the WTTC,” Bartlett said.

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