As the Government makes plans to resume operations within the tourism industry come June 15, the Ministry of Tourism has established a “novel coronavirus (COVID-19)-resilient corridor”, restricting the movement of visitors to the Northern end of the island.
Addressing a virtual media briefing today (June 4) to outline protocols for the reopening of the tourism sector, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said the corridor forms part of a five-point recovery strategy that has been established to guide the reopening of the industry.
“The COVID-19-resilient corridor will run from Negril through to Port Antonio along the coast and will embrace all activities within that area just along the main road. It is a manageable corridor that will be able to have easy access. But the most important thing is to be able to trace the visitors and to contain their movement,” he said.
He pointed out that infrastructure along that stretch is suited for the management of the COVID-19 in the event a visitor to the island starts displaying symptoms of the virus.
“It is fair that we start this phasing arrangement with a corridor that is manageable with ease. We have the infrastructure like Hospiten, which I visited and they are dedicating an entire wing for COVID-19-related cases that may come to them, the transportation arrangement and the ease of access to communication,” he explained.
The Minister further stated that Kingston, which caters to business tourism, and the south coast will be incorporated in the second phase of the reopening process.
Meanwhile, Minister Bartlett said the island could welcome more than one million visitors to the island by the end of 2020.
“For the first two months of the year, we had 650,000 stopover visitors that came, and on the basis of how we are projecting, we could have another 400,000 if all goes well between when we open and December 31,” he said.
Up to 70 per cent of these visitors are expected to come from North America, with residual demand from Europe and from Asia.
The Minister pointed out that the demand for travel to the island remains high, but cautioned that numbers may be constrained by the availability of flights as well as other mitigating factors.
In this early period, as we start back, we are going to see fewer flights with smaller load factors coming in as we build up. We are probably looking at somewhere in the region of the high 20s and mid-30s in the first instance,” he noted.