Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says the Government is using the slowdown in tourism activities due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as an opportunity to upgrade the sector’s infrastructure and improve the quality of Jamaica’s product.
He said this is being done to enable the country to rebound strongly from the significant impact wrought by COVID-19, when the pandemic ends.
The Governor-General was delivering the Throne Speech at the 2021/22 Ceremonial Opening of Parliament, on Thursday (February 18), under the theme ‘Building Forward… Stronger Together’.
He said that through amendment of the Bath of the Apostle and Milk River Acts, public-private partnerships for Milk River Hotel and Spa and Bath Fountain Hotel, will be sought to enable their development into world-class facilities.
Additionally, he said that by amending the Tourist Board Act, the Travel Agency Act and their accompanying Regulations, the Government will seek to modernise these pieces of legislation to strengthen their enforcement provisions.
The Governor-General said the extent to which COVID-19 has affected the sector “is no surprise”, noting that this has manifested through declines in visitor arrivals and expenditure as well as employment and revenue.
He pointed out that in response to the pandemic, the Government developed a comprehensive set of COVID-19 protocols to enhance the health, hygiene and safety standards for tourists, employees and facilities.
These, he said, were the first to be endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), adding that resilient corridors were established along Jamaica’s north and south coasts to encourage safe tourism practices through the delivery of service conforming to rigorous protocols.
The Governor-General also noted that the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) implemented innovative strategies geared towards rebuilding confidence in the destination.
Among the major initiatives, he indicated, was the Rediscover Jamaica Campaign, “which encouraged Jamaicans to take advantage of tourism products and attractions through ‘staycation’ packages”.