Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) is being leveraged to bolster communication between travel providers and visitor destination stakeholders on developments pertaining to safeguards in the post-Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) era.
These, he said, relate to the shaping of travel protocols and addressing travellers’ concerns regarding health and safety, when air and cruise passenger movement resumes.
Mr. Bartlett cited the emergence of a new cohort of travellers, dubbed ‘Generation C’ or ‘GEN-C’, representing a combination of the demographics Jamaica traditionally targeted and, importantly, “one that was essentially ageless”.
“This new demographic that has emerged from all the existing demographics of baby boomers – Gen Z, Gen X and millennials – will be influenced by COVID security requirements and new protocols for originating destinations to ensure the environment is sanitised,” he tells JIS News.
The Minister pointed out that testing will be done to ensure there are no infected passengers on aircraft and cruise ships, adding that safeguards will be in place at the airports, to insulate workers from infection.
“When the traveller arrives, a similar arrangement will again be at the carport with additional checks to ensure the health conditions. Then [there will be] a whole series of protocols straight to the hotels, and then in the hotels, another set of protocols, including social distancing,” he further stated.
Mr. Bartlett said COVID-19 has created a new mindset that might be around for a while, which incorporates physical distancing, wearing of facial covers, and generally, an adjustment in social interaction.
“Passengers may have to arrive three hours prior, at the airport. The flow of tourism will be not as bullish as before, as destinations become more COVID0-resilient, and confidence is built on the part of travellers. The issue of destination assurance will be a major consideration for Generation C,” he added.
The Minister pointed out that once the tourism sector is back up and running, travellers will want to know that the destinations are accessible and airlines are connected to these destinations.
He said long-haul travel will be at the back of the line, and destinations closer to home are likely to see more interest.
Consequently, Mr. Bartlett said the Caribbean will be among the preferred areas, which would likely be deemed as domestic travel, particularly for Americans, noting that “they will want to know that destinations and hotels are outfitted with necessary protocols”.
“Social distancing will be a feature in the short run; at the hotels, they are making arrangements. Our beaches are pretty wide and extensive… [as such] to deal with social distancing may not be a difficult assignment at all. Tourists already know that using our beaches normally involved social distancing… so it’s a matter of rearranging that,” he added.
The Minister noted, however, that banqueting and buffeting, and dining, can be managed to ensure that visitors have space, and are comfortably served.
“All of that planning will be made to happen and not inconvenience visitors, and room service and butler service will be available as usual,” Mr. Bartlett further said.