Jamaica’s Tourism Industry Says Visitors Unfairly Barred From Leaving Hotels

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Jamaica’s Dunn’s River Falls.

The government of Jamaica is restricting tourists to their hotels, backpedalling on a 31JUL decree that allowed them to leave their resorts to visit attractions within an established "COVID-19 Resilient Corridor" between Negril and Port Antonio.

On 14AUG, the government issued a bulletin reversing course. Visitors to accomodations within the "Resilient Corridor" are now required to remain on-property for the entire duration of their stay. By extension, this means they are not allowed to change their accommodation.

"There has been a temporary amendment to the current health and safety measures in place on the island as the destination works to manage its reopening in the safest way possible," a Jamaica Tourist Board spokesperson told Open Jaw. 

"We are hopeful that attractions may be permitted to reopen to tourists in the coming weeks but for now they are closed to visitors until further notice."

These measures apply through 30SEP and are subject to change as the COVID-19 situation on island is evaluated on a daily basis.

That turnaround is not sitting well with several tourism associations, writes the Jamaica Gleaner, who say it's locals and VFR traffic acting irresponsibly where virus spread is concerned, and it is unfair to target the already-struggling tourism sector.

“It is us Jamaicans, resident and diaspora, who are flouting the rules and putting our fellow Jamaicans at risk,” representatives from the COVID-19 Resilient Corridor, the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, and the Association of Jamaican Attractions wrote in a joint letter. 

"It seems to us that due to misbehaviour of our nationals ignoring quarantine and gathering rules, a broad brush has been unfairly used by the Government shutting down the ability for tourists to visit licensed and COVID-19-approved attraction operations, again sending thousands of workers off the job, including tour and taxi operators."

They noted licensed hotels, attractions, and tourist transport operators, undertook a collective approach to ensure the Resilient Corridor was a trusted and protected zone, where foreign or local visitors are now experiencing one of “the safest vacation spots anywhere in the world”, since the sector reopened on 15JUN.

“With all the public/private partnership on this project to date, along with success so far on the beginnings of bringing our tourism workers back to work, we cannot understand why this decision has been taken,” the trio wrote.

They are calling on the government to trust the Corridor system so staff can return to work safely and earn the desperately needed foreign exchange for the country.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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