Tourism stakeholders are calling for an all-hands-on-deck approach in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The group, which includesrepresentatives from the craft, transportation, duty free, hotel, destination management, and attraction sectors, said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is definitely a cause for concern, and anything less than a united front could prove problematic.
“The Government’s overall handling of the COVID-19 situation has been very good from any objective analysis,” Managing Director of one of the island’s top destination management companies, Amstar, Richard Bourke, told JIS News.
“What has not been exemplary is the continued flouting of the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ safety guidelines by some residents. It is so sad that their recklessness and wanton disregard for the outlined protocols have brought on added pressure on all of us, and where much-needed resources, which could have gone into doing something else, will again have to be found to curtail the problem,” he said.
Mr. Bourke, whose company is an affiliate of the Apple Leisure Group and is also responsible for more thanthree million visitors trekking annually through the Caribbean, Mexico and North America, emphasised that it is both unrealistic and unreasonable to think the Government can do it all by itself, adding that residents have a moral obligation to act responsibly by playing their part in adhering to health and safety protocols.
“We have to help the Government to help us. If we don’t get this right. then we all stand to perish and to lose out big time,” he said.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, for his part,said the mantra of “see something, say something and do something” should be adopted right across the board, with everybody playing their part in tackling a pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on the lives of persons right across the globe.
“Our group (the JHTA) is urging other communities to take a zero-tolerance position collectively to comply with the protocols, to practise the mask wearing, hand washing, sanitisation and social distancing that are proving so successful in places around the world,” he urged.
“We are also calling on Jamaican nationals and visitors alike to follow the carefully thought-out and carefully planned guidelines, protocols, and health measures put in place by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and which have been vigilantly implemented by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), notably in the tourist areas,” Mr. Robinson added.
For Senior Director of the Royal Shop chain of duty free stores, Ravi Daswani,the COVID-19 pandemic is now such a clear and present danger that there is no more room for “fence sitters and rule breakers”.
“We have to call out the rule breakers and those who are hell-bent on endangering all our lives… . It is as simple as that,” Mr. Daswani said.
“We have to put Jamaica first in everything that we do, as that is the only way we are going to successfully deal with this pandemic,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, Marc Melville, told JIS News that the COVID-19 fight has to be done “collectively, carefully and responsibly” and cannot be achieved in pockets, but “must be a national mission”.