Jamaica Prime Minister, Andrew Holness says Jamaica is preparing for a phased reopening of the tourism sector, with the necessary health and safety protocols being put in place to guard against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“So we have to plan in advance and anticipate when our largest tourism market would be ready for us, and what we wouldn’t want is for the United States to be ready, Canada, Europe to be ready and we are not, so we are preparing,” Holness said in an interview with CNN’s Business Editor at Large, Richard Quest, on Thursday (May 14).
He noted that tourism is a critical sector of the economy, accounting for more that 50 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
“So what we’re doing now is to ensure that we have the protocols… we’re already figuring out ways how we can have controlled corridors of entry, and how to move our tourists safely from airports to hotels, so that they can enjoy our lovely beaches and our lovely people. That’s key towards providing the kind of service that people would need in the post-COVID environment,” the Prime Minister said.
As to whether Jamaica is considering some form of health certificate or passport, Holness said: “You want to have at least some health profile understanding of the visitor that is coming, and that process itself helps the visitor to be aware of the protocols that they would have to follow.
“And then we would begin to be able to see… how we determine the risk profile of the visitor… and the measures that would have to be in place on the Jamaica end to ensure that we can cater to any needs that those risk profiles would show up,” he noted.
Holness said that as the country works towards a post COVID-19 era, it is proceeding with caution to reopen sectors of the economy.
He noted that getting the economy to return as close as possible to full capacity is realistic, noting that safeguarding the health and safety of Jamaicans is a critical part of the process.
“I have two priorities. Priority number one is their health and safety and priority number one is their livelihood. So I don’t see a trade-off between health and economy; I don’t see the two things as mutually exclusive.
“You need healthy people to make the economy work and a working economy gives you healthy people,” he noted.