by Howard Campbell
[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – For someone whose business depends on travel, Kimona Myrie is relieved that the global lockdown caused by COVID-19, is gradually lifting. After a year on the sidelines, she is preparing to take flight in June.
The 28 year-old Myrie operates TravelwithKimmie, a travel planning company in Kingston, Jamaica. Since late 2018, she has booked groups every quarter for trips to Europe, Asia, Mexico and the Middle East.
On June 2, Myrie and a 14-member party are scheduled to head for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a week-long trip. Potential travelers are required to provide a negative COVID-19 document.
“COVID had impacted the business negatively in the early stages due to borders being closed. However, I used that time to restructure,” she disclosed. “We are fully booked for the rest of 2021.”
TravelwithKimmie’s comeback in June is complete with vacation packages for Jamaicans to Tulum and Cancun, Mexico (June 9-14) and Panama City, Panama (June 14-18). Working-class Jamaicans between ages 21 to 35 account for 80 per cent of the company’s business.
Passion for Travel
Myrie is from Hanover, a rural parish in Jamaica’s western region. After leaving school, she worked the country’s tourist industry at hotels such as the Ritz Carlton and the Hyatt.
Eager to travel, she visited multiple states in the United States before finally realizing a long-held ambition to visit Europe. The decision to start a travel-planning company came after she discovered how affordable it was to visit that continent.
Her company’s maiden treks three years ago were to France, Germany and Italy. Since then, she and her three-member staff have booked groups to the Caribbean, the US, Thailand, China and Dubai.
“My largest group was to Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand in 2019; 30 persons in total. The most popular destination among my travels is Europe including France, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands,” said Myrie.
Travelwithkimmie gets back on track at a time when Jamaica is welcoming visitors. In March, Donovan White, the country’s director of tourism, told Travel Weekly magazine that 93,000 tourists visited Jamaica in January and February.
Tourism is Jamaica’s leading earner of foreign exchange. In 2018, the country welcomed a record 4.8 million visitors; because of borders closing due to COVID-19, figures dropped to 1.3 million in 2020.