Opposition says late start to COVID vaccination affecting tourism

OPPOSITION spokesman on tourism Senator Janice Allen says the failure on the part of Government to provide a clear timetable for a roll-out of a national vaccination programme is causing heightened concern among hoteliers and other tourism interests.

“The Cayman Islands, Barbados, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago are among a growing list of countries that have already commenced vaccination programmes. As a major tourist destination in the Caribbean region, Jamaica is now at a serious disadvantage vis–vis its regional counterparts,” said Allen.

In the meantime, with the spike in COVID-19 cases, the Opposition wants the Government to do an assessment of the impact of the extended crisis

on visitor arrivals, and say whether adjustments are being made to mitigate “anticipated blows”.

“The Opposition is also concerned that hoteliers and other players in the industry are still awaiting COVID-19 relief grants which were promised to them several months ago. Industry stakeholders who applied for Exim Bank grants in September 2020 are still not in receipt of the funds. There have been numerous revisions of disbursement dates, with the most recent promise being for some time in February. As February comes to an end, we hold little confidence that the much-needed support will be disbursed,” said Senator Allen.

She said: “The tourism sector has faced challenging times over many decades and has always rebounded, the global appeal of Jamaica’s tourism product is evidence of this. However, the present situation of crime, COVID-19 and the lack of a robust vaccination campaign presents an existential threat to many in the industry if not to the industry itself.”

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