KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett says the re-opening of the sector, at this time, is crucial to assisting the over 350,000 pandemic-displaced workers and the many tourism enterprises that are at severe economic risk.
Speaking at his Ministry’s digital media briefing earlier today, he said, “I am mindful of the public sentiment that we are moving too fast and this will pose a health risk to the Jamaican people. I want to assure you that the reopening will be carried out safely and in a way, that protects our frontline tourism workers, Jamaican citizens and our visitors. As our Prime Minister stresses, we must continue to protect lives while securing our livelihoods.”
As part of the Ministry’s wider work to safeguard the wellbeing of the tourism workers when the sector reopens, the Ministry recently donated 10,000 masks to frontline industry workers. This is being undertaken through the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and Tourism Linkages Network.
“We are spending just a little over $5 million in this exercise and we are excited because not only is the initiative facilitating the provision of much-needed protective cover, but is contributing to economic sustainability by generating opportunities for small enterprises to create a cottage industry through the making of masks. Some 22 small entrepreneurs were engaged to make these masks,” said the Minister.
He also noted that since the tourism sector came to a halt, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s economy has suffered severely.
The estimated overall loss to the economy from visitor expenditure from stopover arrivals is J$107.6 billion. While the projected loss of direct tourism revenue to the Government due to COVID-19 from April 2020 to March 2021 is J$38.4 billion.
“Tourism is big business – 80% of which is small business – the restaurants, craft vendors, tour and transportation operators, attractions, bars, duty-free shops. Due to tourism’s transversal nature and the linkages with other productive sectors, it also stimulates agriculture, manufacturing and the creative economy,” Minister Bartlett explained.
It is within this context that we are anxious to revive tourism, which has been severely crippled by the pandemic,” he said.