President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Clifton Reader, says the tourism sector’s widespread implementation of health and safety protocols has been serving as a shining example for the rest of the country.
Mr. Reader, who spoke to JIS News following the rolling out of the JHTA’s COVID-19 Ambassador Programme, at the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande hotel, on October 2, said the hotels have been so impressed with how the protocols are being executed inside the properties that they will be using their staff to share “their skills and expertise” as ambassadors in their communities.
,“We can all be proud of the response of our sector in the implementation of protocols and sanitisation regimes that have served to protect our staff, our guests and by extension, our communities,” Mr. Reader noted.
“We feel that we can be of even greater direct service to our communities and it is our intention to partner with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to lend the expertise of our trained employees in helping to sensitise communities and craft a recovery road map that will benefit all,” the JHTA President added.
He said that in tandem with the Ministry, the training departments in the hotels will have virtual workshops organised with the assistance of the churches and schools, to share the protocols and strategies that are “serving us well” in the tourist industry.
Mr. Reader, in the meantime, said that while COVID-19 recovery planning focuses now on the logistics of sanitisation, safe distancing and mask wearing, the country also needs to look ahead to what life will be like going forward.
“Our industry’s survival depends on our being ready to spring forward with concrete plans, welcoming messages and interesting experiences to capture the public’s attention. So, we will be exploring opportunities for product and marketing innovations, taking into account new visitor mindsets,” he said.
“Some trends have already emerged during the pandemic, including a heightened appreciation of local communities and local food and drink, which augurs well, especially for our smaller accommodations and businesses,” Mr. Reader added.
He noted that the larger properties should also be able to continue to connect with the network of past visitors that are virtual ambassadors for new and potential guests.
“We will be looking towards new product development and experiences for our marketing messages that help keep our lights on, but above all, we will be working together to ensure that Jamaica is safe to live and visit,” the President said.
“The tourism industry is the glue that holds virtually every other industry together. Never before has it been more obvious that we are in this together – hotels, airlines, attractions, tour operators, manufacturers, agriculture, craftsmen and artisans and, of course, our dedicated and committed employees. We are all a part of what makes for the true Jamaica travel experience,” he added.