Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the appreciation being shown by employees within the hospitality sector to be back at work is an affirmation of the Government’s move to reopen the sector.
Speaking to JIS News following recent visits to several of Jamaica’s top north coast attractions, Mr. Bartlett said he was moved by the personal testimonies of some of the workers, adding that “they are just happy to be back at work where they can pay their bills and provide for their families”.
The Minister said he was also impressed by the general understanding of the workers that the shutdown of the sector was a last but necessary resort, as nobody at the time knew the extent to which the island would be affected by COVID-19.
“We have been opening the industry in a very carefully structured and strategised way, and in so doing, we want to ensure also that in the process the jobs come back,” he pointed out.
Mr. Bartlett also expressed deep satisfaction with the kind of work ethic he had seen on display, adding that the partnership between tourism and health is paramount in overcoming the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stressed that while the importance of health security to the hospitality industry is of paramount importance, tourism, as the heartbeat of the country, has to be seen as part of the solution.
“Visitors don’t just come here to have a drink and then move on. They are also here to expand the Jamaican market and to enable producers to have a larger group of people to feed and to provide goods and services for. Tourism expands the demand for goods and services and enables jobs as a result,” said Mr. Bartlett.
For her part, Team Leader at Chukka Caribbean Adventures, one of the three attractions the Minister visited on July 24, Alicia Green, thanked the Minister for “freeing up tourism so we can all have our jobs back”.
“We promise to follow all protocols to remain COVID-free and to have a wonderful time,” she told Mr. Bartlett.
Chukka’s Executive Director, John Byles, who is also Chairman of the joint public-private sector COVID-19 resilient corridor management team, also noted that “all of us in the private sector commit to joining the partnership”.
“We see it as us protecting ourselves by helping with the surveillance, the enforcement; to help with the entire programme of ensuring compliance”.
Mr. Bartlett and ministry officials also visited Mystic Mountain and Dolphin Cove.