Hoteliers expect entertainment to breathe new life into tourism

THE Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) says it is in full support of Government’s decision to reopen the entertainment sector, saying it is a win for both the entertainment and tourism industries.

According to the hoteliers, an unchained entertainment sector will undoubtedly pump some life and dollars into the nation’s tourism product.

“Entertainment and tourism are linked in many ways. People come to Jamaica, and a part of the allure to Jamaica is reggae music. To the extent that they can get reggae music being played whether within the walls of the hotel or on the street in small groups or events, then the opening of entertainment is definitely going to bring more people to Jamaica and bring more occupancy to the hotels,” JHTA President Clifton Reader told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“It goes without saying that we are in full support. But the only caution is that we’ve known the rigours of maintaining our protocols within the hotels and we’re just stressing to entertainment that they should maintain the same rigours with the protocols that they have,” said Reader.

Addressing Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the Government is considering contemplating two categories of events — small events with no more than 100 people in total, including organisers and support personnel; and large events with more than 100 people.

Holness said small events include parties, round-robins and other events of that nature, while large events would include stage shows, church conventions, conferences or crusades and related activities.

Added Reader: “People were getting frustrated not being able to have entertainment events and not being able to express themselves culturally in many ways. But we just have to know that the opening up or the relaxation has some rules and we have to maintain those rules.”

A couple weeks ago, he said, there was a meeting with ministers responsible for entertainment and local government to discuss adherence to protocols.

“We explained our protocols to them and how they work. They had their own protocols, they did some tweaking, and we’re here to support them. We are ready to work with them. Anything they need, in terms of support for protocols, we will be here to assist them. We don’t want them to fail, because a failure for them means a failure for tourism as well,” he said.

Reader, meanwhile, pointed to Negril as a prime example of how a padlock on entertainment activities had reduced hotel occupancy and affected the livelihood of hotel workers.

“Negril is one of those places that you have the most live music of any of the tourism plants in Jamaica. They’ve been suffering occupancy-wise. A survey we did showed Negril as one of the lowest regions in terms of occupancy.”

However, he told the Observer that emphasis needs to be placed on the fact that events should be properly managed.

Further, Reader said International Reggae Day, which will be celebrated on Saturday, July 3, has the potential to drive domestic tourism against the backdrop of an active entertainment sector.

“You may have some short-term bookings with people coming in. I’m not sure if it’s [a] long planning period enough for us to get a mass of tourists coming in for that, but, certainly, domestic tourism will flourish. You will have visiting friends and relatives,” he said.

Also, as of July 1, fully vaccinated people who enter Jamaica now have the option of taking an approved polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and upon presentation of negative results they can be released from quarantine.

“If they are fully vaccinated, they can just come in, test their way out of quarantine and then they are gone again to do their business or go to events whether weddings or whatever. That has freedom, especially for Kingston, [which] was being stifled by that quarantine for eight days if you’re vaccinated,” Reader said.

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