Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says that while Jamaica prepares for a return to normality in tourism, “partners and all stakeholders” should also be cognisant of the fact that never again will it “be business as usual”.
The Minister adds that if there is one caveat that “could and will work” in the country’s favour is that Jamaica, over the past eight months, “has done everything humanly possible to demonstrate to all and sundry” that it remains “one of the most COVID-19-resilient countries” in the world.
Speaking to JIS News following the first virtual staging of the Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), the island’s leading tourism trade show, on November 9, Mr. Bartlett said he is proud of how tourism stakeholders and partners have weathered the storm amidst a climate of uncertainty and against the worst pandemic “known to man” and are now poised “to be the true champions of Jamaica’s economic recovery”.
“It will, however, not be business as usual. I have always maintained that the once glorified sand, sun and sea will no longer be an automatic sell, and COVID-19 has just dispelled that myth in no uncertain manner,” the Minister said.
“One could correctly surmise that I was being prophetic in 2019 when I said or suggested that the way forward would be a complete reimagining of the tourism sector. Now COVID-19 has all but made that concept a reality… if we are to move positively forward and to regain our stature as the destination of choice in the region,” he added.
Mr. Bartlett said the Tourism Ministry will be “re-intensifying” its focus on the recovery of the sector, adding that there has to be a new mindset if “we are to regain our footing” as one of the premier “and much featured destinations on planet Earth”.
The Minister said it is very important, “and we have already started,” to bring the various players back to the table “to start thinking through this process and to look at what’s happening globally”.
Noting that the recovery of Jamaica’s tourism industry is critical to the overall economic recovery programme, the Minister said there has to be a new approach that is focused on safeguarding the sector while protecting lives.